Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation invites Pope to visit and offer long-awaited apology on trip to Canada – .

Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation invites Pope to visit and offer long-awaited apology on trip to Canada – .

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Leaders of the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation on Thursday invited Pope Francis to visit their community and meet survivors of the Kamloops Indian Residential School during his scheduled visit to Canada.

A nationwide statement said it would be “deeply meaningful” if the Pope came to the community in person and apologized for the role of the Catholic Church in running the residential schools.

“This would be a historic moment for the survivors of the Kamloops Indian Residential School and for our community which continues to suffer the impacts after the horrific confirmation of the missing children,” Kukpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir wrote in a statement.

“Let the Pope come to Canada without real action, with just the goal of reconciliation, ignore and ignore this harsh truth.

Chief Robert Joseph, Ambassador of Reconciliation Canada, said it would be “really important” to see the Pope visit the territory of Tk’emlúps.

He said hearing first-hand from the survivors could give the Catholic leader a better understanding of why an apology would mean so much to so many people.

“It would help survivors and their families to hear the Pope’s apology as they desperately hang on so they can find a way to enter the process of reconciliation,” Joseph said, speaking Thursday the The first edition.

A stone painted with the message “Every Child Counts” sits Thursday in front of a memorial outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)

Joseph, himself a residential school survivor and hereditary chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, would also like the Pope to offer more than an apology.

“It would be absolutely inspiring if the Pope came to Canada with a real plan of action that demonstrated what they would do to follow through on the words,” he said.

The Vatican said on Wednesday that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops had invited Pope Francis to visit Canada in “the context of the long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples.”

A statement said the Pope agreed to the trip, but no date was announced and there was no guarantee of an apology.

The Pope did not apologize in June

Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation is near the site of the former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, where approximately 200 unmarked burial sites were detected by a radar survey this spring.

The pope in June expressed his sadness at the “shocking news” but stopped short of the direct apology many have demanded from the Catholic Church for its role in running the institutions.

An estimated 150,000 indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools between 1831 and 1996, with more than 60% of the schools being run by the church.

Recommendation 58 of the report of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, published in 2015, called on the Pope to apologize to Canada within one year.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally asked the Pope in 2017 to consider apologizing.

“The Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly refused to accept responsibility or formally apologize for its direct role in the many and horrendous abuses committed against Indigenous children through the residential school system,” reads the nation’s declaration.

Pope Francis with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Rome on May 14. The date of the Pope’s next visit to Canada has not yet been announced. (Cecilia Fabiano/The Associated Press)

“For the ‘truth’ component of Truth and Reconciliation, there must be a recognition of the true role of the Catholic Church in the deaths of children in its care. “

First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders plan to travel to the Vatican in December to meet with the Pope in the hopes of obtaining an apology. Casimir will be one of those leaders, the nation confirmed Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc reiterated its call for the church to publish attendance records of all students forced to attend the Kamloops institution.

Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential schools and those triggered by recent reports. The Residential School Survivors Society can be contacted toll free at 1-800-721-0066.

A national residential school crisis line has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.

In British Columbia, the KUU-US Crisis Line Society has a 24/7 First Nations and Indigenous Crisis Line. It is a toll-free number and can be reached at 1-800-588-8717 or online at


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