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Church Apologies for Indian Residential Schools

Approximately 70% of the forced Indian Residential Schooling in Canada was done by the Roman Catholic church. Pope Benedict expressed his sorrow for the suffering of Indigenous people in Canada’s residential schools to the Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief, Phil Fontaine, in April of 2009. However, the Roman Catholic church refused to formally apologize for its role in Canada’s policy of forced Indigenous assimilation and Indian Residential Schooling. At the centre of this refusal to apologize lies the irrevocable papal bull Romanus Pontifex issued in 1455 by Pope Nicholas V. Centuries of destruction and genocide resulted from the application of this document and its framework of dominance against Indigenous Peoples and their lands, territories and resources.

In April of 2022, Pope Francis apologized to Canada' Indigenous Peoples. However, he apologized for individual church members that abused Indigenous Peoples in Canada and did not apologize for the Catholic Church leadership's role in creating a doctrine of dominance and supporting the abuse and genocide of Indgenous Peoples with Catholic Church policies.

Later in May 2022, the Church of England's Archbishop Justin apologized for sins committed against First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples in Canada. This apology went further than Pope Francis' apology by admitting leadership of the Church of England were complicit in perpetrated cruelties. However, atonement [reparations] was not part of Archibishop Justin's apologies.  

Four religious organizations in Canada have formally apologized to Indigenous people. Their apologies can be seen below:

Background on Indian Residential Schools:


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