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why his apology for school abuse will matter

#apology #school #abuse #matter

Indigenous Canadians have waited and hoped for years for an apology from the Pope for abuses in government schools run by churches over the last century, where some 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly enrolled.

In an AFP interview, Marie-Pierre Bousquet, director of indigenous studies at the University of Montreal, explains why Pope Francis’ visit is expected to be a pivotal moment for the whole country as it tries to process this dark chapter in its inner history .

– The Pope has already apologized. Why the visit? –

For Indigenous Peoples, and indeed for all Canadians, it is important that the apologies are made here on Canadian soil. This will be stronger and have a greater impact, especially because in indigenous cultures the land of their ancestors is of particular importance.

And then it is important that many survivors participate. It’s a very old request, they’ve been waiting for this for years.

But generations will experience it differently. We have a feeling that young Indigenous people are interested, but they don’t really seem to know what to expect. For the elders they hope, but there have been so many disappointments, false promises.

– What do survivors hope for? –

For some, the expectations are immense, they hope for great changes afterwards, progress towards reconciliation, funding to get out of their often very difficult circumstances…

And even those who believe that it is too little, too late, are still very attentive to what is happening.

But in the end it should be symbolic, emotional above all. And that’s important, because a lot has to go. These are emotions that haven’t been expressed in years. Indigenous peoples need to speak up and be heard.

Even if the result is negative, it’s critical that all Canadians hear the anger, the sadness… It has to be visible.

This visit is not a celebration. It will be a time of remembrance and respect, boarding school survivors must be at the heart of the process for it to have meaning.

– What about the broader Canadian society? –

In recent months and years, society has made fundamental advances in these issues. The country faces its history. Today, Canadians are realizing that the past that allowed Canada to be the great country it is today is not what they thought.

On the indigenous side there is a very strong desire for decolonization, so that Canadian society is now confronted with the consequences of decades of assimilation. It will be a great disappointment if this realization does not occur.

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