Church apologies and reconciliation

The Government of Canada is not the lead on a response for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 58 to 61.

58. We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church's role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.

What's happening?

The Pope is responsible for the response to Call to Action 58. On May 29, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican. During this meeting, the Prime Minister formally asked the Pope deliver a papal apology for the Catholic Church's role in Indian Residential Schools.

On July 24 – 29, 2022, Pope Francis visited Canada on what he termed a "penitential pilgrimage," visiting Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut. More information, including the trip itinerary, can be found on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops website about Pope Francis' visit to Canada.

While in Maskwacîs, situated on Treaty 6 territory, traditional lands of First Nations and Métis people, Pope Francis recognized the abuses experienced at residential schools that resulted in cultural destruction, loss of life, and ongoing trauma lived by Indigenous Peoples in every region of this country. He made further remarks at Lac Ste. Anne, Ste. Anne de Beaupré and in Iqaluit.

59. We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church's role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.

What's happening?

The church parties to the Settlement Agreement are responsible for the response to Call to Action 59.

60. We call upon leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.

What's happening?

Leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths are responsible for the response to Call to Action 60.

61. We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement, in collaboration with Survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for:

  1. Community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects.
  2. Community-controlled culture and language revitalization projects.
  3. Community-controlled education and relationship-building projects.
  4. Regional dialogues for Indigenous spiritual leaders and youth to discuss Indigenous spirituality, self-determination, and reconciliation.

What's happening?

The church parties to the Settlement Agreement are responsible for the response to Call to Action 61.

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