Pope's apology 'vague,' lacks accountability, say Mi'kmaw chiefs on P.E.I.

·2 min read
Pope Francis delivered his long-awaited apology to residential school survivors on Monday during a visit to Canada. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Pope Francis delivered his long-awaited apology to residential school survivors on Monday during a visit to Canada. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The Pope's apology to residential school survivors this week came up short, Mi'kmaw chiefs on P.E.I. say.

Roddy Gould Jr., chief of Abegweit First Nation in Scotchfort, said Pope Francis's words were too vague and seemed unconnected to the hurt and trauma caused by the residential school system.

"You can't dance around the, you know, bypass the truth and go right to reconciliation or say, oh, forget about the past and let's move forward," he said.

"I think that the truth has to be spoken first. It has to be recorded. And the actions of the people involved with the truth will be held accountable, whether it be the court of law or judged by the creator."

Jane Robertson/CBC
Jane Robertson/CBC

Darlene Bernard, chief of Lennox Island First Nation, said she hopes the apology was helpful to members of the community, but realizes many were expecting more.

"If the apology comforted you and gave you what you needed to continue your journey, then I'm happy for that. Like, I smile and I'm grateful for that. For those people that it's helped. But also, like, I still think that we have to acknowledge, though, that some people didn't get what they needed from that."

There needs to be a decolonization of the church. — Lennox Island Chief Darlene Bernard

Bernard wants to see more action from the church as a true partner in reconciliation.

"The church needs to give back. They need to give back the records that they have there. They need to give back stolen artifacts that they have there. And they need to give back the lands. There needs to be a decolonization of the church."

Gould said the apology sounded like the Pope was speaking more to his own followers than to residential school survivors.

"The Catholic Church has accommodated, made changes and things in its own church service to accommodate and keep its clientele. And that's what I saw. I saw the largest political organization in the world make a vague, very articulated statement, not out of accountability, but to appease its base."

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