“We recognize the serious abuses that have been committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural and sexual, ”according to a statement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops released Friday.
“With the Catholic entities who have been directly involved in the functioning of the schools and who have already offered their own most sincere apologies, we, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our deep remorse and we apologize unequivocally,” the statement read. .
The experiences of Indigenous children, forcibly separated from their families under a government policy later described as cultural genocide, have come to light, after a radar poll found evidence of the remains of more than 1,000 children buried in unmarked areas on residential school grounds in recent months.
NEW: Catholic Bishops of Cda re Residential Schools “We, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our deep remorse and we apologize unequivocally. The Pope will meet with a contingent of the indigenous community in Rome in December.#bcpoli #cdnpoli @NEWS1130 #National Day for Truth and Reconciliation pic.twitter.com/6apl2mupzp
-LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) September 24, 2021
In June, Pope Francis expressed sorrow over the discovery of the remains of 215 children at a church-run boarding school, but did not apologize.
The system, which operated between 1831 and 1996, removed approximately 150,000 Aboriginal children from their families and took them to Christian residential schools operated on behalf of the federal government.
They were forced to convert to Christianity and were not allowed to speak their mother tongue.
Many have been beaten and verbally assaulted, and up to 6,000 are believed to have died.
A Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), established to investigate the effects of the residential school system, reported in 2015 that children were malnourished, beaten and abused in a system it called “genocide.” cultural “.
The papal apology was one of the TRC’s 94 recommendations, but the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said in 2018 that the Pope felt he could not personally apologize for the residential schools.
Indigenous children had their long hair, which was often of spiritual significance to them, cut when they arrived and were not allowed to speak their mother tongue, according to the TRC. The students were given European names and, often, numbers and uniforms.
Schools focused on manual skills, teaching boys carpentry and other trades, while girls were prepared for domestic service.
While schools were touted as the only way for indigenous children to get a formal education, students also worked, cleaning up manure or feeding animals.
The Canadian government apologized to Parliament in 2008 and admitted that physical and sexual abuse in schools was rampant.
Many students remember being beaten for speaking their mother tongue. They also lost contact with their parents and their customs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Catholic Church must take responsibility for its role in running many schools and provide records to help identify the remains.
Earlier, Trudeau also formally asked the Vatican for the Pope’s apology.
Indigenous leaders have said the legacy of abuse and isolation is behind the epidemic rates of alcohol and drug abuse on reserves.
Since the discovery of anonymous graves on the sites of former residential schools, there have been several fires in churches across Canada. Vandalism has also been committed against churches and statues in towns.