Grass Dancers at the 2007 National Pow Wow, Canada. (Photo by Cynthia Frankenburg/Smithsonian Institute)
A Canadian archbishop sought forgiveness from indigenous people in Nova Scotia for the racism, abuse and “inhuman conditions” at Catholic-run residential schools in past decades.
Halifax-Yarmouth Archbishop Anthony Mancini got to his knees during a special Treaty Day Mass on Oct. 1 at St. Mary’s Basilica in the provincial capital of Halifax and apologized for the mistakes made by the Church, cbc.ca reports.
He read a “Rite of Forgiveness” during his homily while keeling with Antigonish Bishop Brian Dunn and admitted to the “failures of the past” while recognizing the Mi’kmaq’s autonomy and unceded territory, the media reports.
“[We] express our regret, sorrow and apology for the hurts, violence and abuse experienced in the residential school of Shubenacadie, for the participation of the Church in the misguided policies of assimilation, and for our involvement in undermining aboriginal culture, language and spirituality,” Archbishop Mancini was quoted as saying.
He urged forgiveness in the name of reconciliation and vowed clerics would never again show such lack of interest in the struggles indigenous people face.
Oct. 1 marks the date when the British Crown signed the Peace and Friendship Treaties with three First Nations indigenous peoples – the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqiyik and Peskotomuhkati – in 1752 and 1760.
Survivors in attendance described it as an emotional experience as they had never expected to hear such an apology. Some said their children had questioned their faith due to what had transpired at the schools.
The apology comes after Pope Francis condemned the “atrocities” of child sex abuse in an open letter to the world’s Catholics in mid-August.
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