THE Archbishop of St. Boniface is being urged to ask the head of the Roman Catholic Church to seek forgiveness from Indigenous people in Canada for the church’s role in running residential schools.
In a letter Monday to Archbishop Albert LeGatt, St. Boniface MLA and Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont asks him to ask Pope Francis to commit to reconciliation.
"For the church to recognize the historical reality, and ask forgiveness would not be an ending, but a beginning: an act that could make the process of healing possible," Lamont’s four-page letter reads in part.
The message comes in the wake of 751 potential unmarked graves being discovered last week at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School on Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.
"Acknowledging wrongs and asking forgiveness would be an act of recognition and of elevation — that elevates First Nations and Indigenous peoples and takes a step toward granting them the full dignity as human beings that they always deserved, and are continually denied," Lamont’s letter says.
Manitoba’s NDP house leader and justice critic, Nahanni Fontaine, meanwhile, called for the Catholic Church to show "grace and courage."
"We must seek justice for these children and know the full truth of what happened in residential schools," said Fontaine, MLA for St. Johns and an Ojibwa from Sagkeeng First Nation.
"The Catholic Church must release its internal records to Indigenous communities and publicly commit to implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, which includes an apology from the Pope," Fontaine said in an email Monday. "Survivors have led the way, it’s time for the Catholic Church to finally follow their example of grace and courage."
Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative government said Monday it has not urged church leaders to apologize to Indigenous Canadians.
"At this time our government has not reached out to the Catholic church, however, we understand that as a country we must work towards healing and reconciliation," a spokeswoman for Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke said Monday.
"Our government continues working collaboratively with residential school survivors, families, Indigenous leadership and communities, elders and knowledge keepers to determine next steps."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.