The Star posed this question: What happens next after the Pope’s historical apology?
It was an expression of sorrow and regret — a historic apology. “I am deeply sorry,” Pope Francis said, speaking of the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system. After first apologising in Rome, the highly anticipated remarks were finally uttered on the soil of Indigenous people. But missing from the acknowledgment were concrete promises of action and a hoped-for renunciation of harmful papal doctrine. With only the vague mention of an “investigation” to follow, many survivors and chiefs say more work is needed to alleviate the trauma inflicted by the church.
More: “Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said.
The aftermath: Here’s how others are reacting to Pope Francis’s residential-schools apology.
Gillian Steward’s take: Although he didn’t apologize on behalf of the entire church, Pope Francis sounded heartfelt and remorseful. Why did it take so long?
For some strange and unusual reason went to AlJazeera, the Qatar on line giant to see if they carried news of this historical moment. I was utterly impressed and amazed at the depth and sensitivity of the reporting. It was, in my estimation, superior to that of any other coverage. It covered in depth the next day of the pontiff’s visit, his journey to Lac St. Anne. What follows is some of the article. “There is an expansive lake 75km (46 miles) west of Edmonton, Alberta that attracts thousands of Catholic believers every July to cleanse in its muddy shorelines. The believers consider the lake to harbour healing powers. It was named Lac Ste Anne by 19th-century Catholic missionaries, however to the local Metis (mixed Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples) and First Nations, the eutrophic lake has been a sacred area long before the settlers came.”
It is rather uncanny that the tribe and the chief bear my name but that is not what drew me to the article. Uncanny definition:strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way. Its synonyms are:
unnatural, preternatural, supernatural, unearthly, otherworldly, unreal, ghostly, mysterious, bizarre, freakish; creepy, spooky, freaky; bizarro. It is mysterious and rather bizzaro because I was named for my Scottish father (Alexander) and there is a Sioux tribe by the same name and that we should ‘meet’ in 2022. .
“The Alexis Nakota Sioux refer to it as “Wakamne”, meaning “God’s lake”, and the Cree call it “Manitou Sakhahigan”, which translates as “spirit lake”. It is alongside where their ancestors once hunted buffalo and fished for sustenance. The local Indigenous people tell legends of old of a gigantic serpent that lived there where it created treacherous and unpredictable currents that could capsize a canoe. But it has always been revered as a holy site.
On July 26, Pope Francis will visit the lake to bless its waters, and join thousands of pilgrims who gather at the site each year. His attendance forms part of his “pilgrimage of penance” trip to mend relationships with Indigenous peoples in Canada over the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools where thousands of children were abused and died.”
The story continues. (I do enjoy seeing my name in print even when it is not me.) The chief of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation will welcome the pontiff on Tuesday. In 2016, Chief Tony Alexis travelled to the Vatican and invited Pope Francis to visit his nation’s territories. Alexis hopes the pope will make good on his apology and that his presence at the sacred lake will aid in the healing process.
“With the healing abilities of Wakamne, we hope it will bring in some healing for survivors and their families with the apology [the pope gave in Rome],” he told Al Jazeera. “[The Catholic Church] once told us our spiritual practices were wrong,” he added. “And that’ll never happen again.” Wakamne is a universal gathering place of healing that Alexis says anyone is welcome to visit. “Many cultures, many nations, have all gathered here [over the years]. And the pope is coming here to stand with [our people] and I think it’s good for the people. Indigenous people were instrumental in bringing the Catholic Church to Lac Ste Anne, according to Tracy Friedel, the Region 4 president of the Metis Nation of Alberta and descendant of the Lac Ste Anne Metis. “Oftentimes, folks think that missionaries came out and found native people, you know, for the purpose of civilising them,” she told Al Jazeera. “But to be honest our community sought the Catholic Church and actually were instrumental in the Catholic representatives coming in the first place and the establishment of the mission. It [Lac Ste Anne] is considered spiritual by Indigenous peoples from far and wide.
The Mission of Lac Ste Anne was established in 1844, to honour Saint Anne. It was named after the Metis Lac Ste Anne community that settled on the west banks of the lake.
The weeklong “pilgrimage” began in 1889, with the Saint Anne feast day held on July 26. In the early days, pilgrims travelled by horse and wagon, train and on foot, often thousands of miles, to attend. Nowadays, pilgrims come to the lake from all over North America. Some walk hours, days or even weeks barefooted as penance to participate in the miracles of healing at the lake. They set up camp in canvas tents and motorhomes beside the Catholic mission at the Lac Ste Anne pilgrimage site. Up to 40,000 people now flock to the annual pilgrimage where they declare oaths of sobriety, along with other life-altering promises, and prayers and forgiveness are given.
The pope’s mission follows invitations from the church, the civil authorities in Canada, and Indigenous people. He is seeking forgiveness for the church’s role in 139 federally mandated residential schools that forcibly assimilated Indigenous children into mainstream Canadian culture. The Catholic Church oversaw 60 percent of these schools.
More than 150,000 Indigenous children attended the institutions from the late 1800s until 1997 when the last school closed. Abuses were widespread and Indigenous languages and cultural practices were forbidden.
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) has documented that 6,000 children died at residential schools. Not all the deaths listed on the registry include burial records. But since spring 2017, the unmarked graves of thousands of Indigenous children were discovered on the former grounds of residential schools across the country. And those searches continue.”
Al Jazeera also featured this April 27, 2022 amazing article: “A Warrior for Indigenous Women and Girls. A photograph of Lorelei pictured by the coliseum: “Lorelei Williams at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy on March 28, 2022. “I don’t really trust the government, I don’t really trust the Church so I knew I had to be here,” she said of the historic meetings between Indigenous delegates and the Pope. She travelled to Rome. The bravery and resolve of this woman is awe inspiring – her family deeply and tragically harmed by the dreadful ongoing effects of the inhumanity perpetuated by the Government of Canada, the Catholic Church and other religious institutions.
Horribly and unfortunately the story goes on. The ongoing victimization of Indigenous women and girls. This from the Williams article with links you can access.
“She took a deep breath and lifted the hood of her cape, designed to draw attention to the crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), over her head. In Canada, Indigenous females are 12 times more likely to go missing or be murdered than non-Indigenous females. In 2019, a federally-funded National Inquiry declared the crisis a genocide. Its final report outlined 231 Calls for Justice for the public, private and governmental sectors to help end the crisis. But Canada has since taken little to no action and Indigenous women and girls continue to face high rates of violence and murder.
There are also links from Al Jazeera to powerful YouTube presentations of the horrors of the genocide perpetuated upon Indigenous children.
Al Jazeera is to be honored for this presentation. This blog has contained some criticism of Al Jazeera, its inaccessibility due to the incessant ads specifically. But the ads were not at all bothersome on this journey, therefore: “Alexis apologizes to you Al Jazeera.”
What is equally otherworldly, unreal and mysterious is that I have Qatar connections. I met many from Qatar in London. Several adolescents called and continue to call me Granny. Two considered coming to the USA, going to school and living with me. It proved impossible of course because of the violence, guns and lack of safety in the USA. I was not a Muslim at the time of my original acquaintance with them. My reversion to the Islamic faith is only incidentally related to their presence in my life. I do intend to speak of my becoming of the Islamic faith but am not ready to do so at the present moment. I do believe it is because my faith is evolving. Evolve is the perfect word. Its meaning: 1 develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form. My knowledge of the Islamic faith is from reading, the Quran and many other resources found on the Internet. My appreciation is becoming more complex and nuanced. Synonyms are, of course, most telling: develop, progress, make progress, advance, move forward, make headway, mature, grow, open out, unfold, unroll, expand, enlarge, spread, extend; alter, change, transform, adapt, metamorphose, differentiate; transmogrify.
So my Islamic faith is transmogrifying – that sounds rather funny – perhaps maturing and transforming would be a better choice of words.
The attached photograph tells a true tale. Yesterday morning walked to the Legislative Building for the six dollar special breakfast, an omelet. On the way was serenaded by an Indigenous guitar playing man.
Me: Thank you for that song! It was meaningful to me. Never heard it before. I am going to breakfast. Please come with me and I will buy you breakfast. You have to go through Security but the men working there are very polite.
He: I do not know about that! But I will trust you and put on my ‘just got out of jail but learned a lot face”
The men from Security were so polite, they even relaxed their rules and allowed him to leave his guitar with them for safekeeping. All was going well – we both ordered the veggie omelet and V-8 juice – sat at a table in the vacant cafeteria. Here are snippets of the conversation.
He: There is so much evil in this world. It will take a strong force to get rid of it. I will head the army.
Me: That is interesting. That is what the Islamic faith says – that it will take a strong force.
He: I hate Muslims. They destroy sacred lands.
Me: That is not true. Christians do and Jews do in Israel but not Muslims
He: Yes they do they are utterly horrible and kill people.
Me: Do not tell lies about my faith please. You do not know the truth.
He: I am getting out of here. This is my place, this is my temple.
He stormed off leaving me with two omelets. I spoke to the courteous staff.
Me: He was speaking lies and untruths of the Islamic faith and when I would not listen to him, he ran off. He disrespected me and my faith. But if you do not respect yourself – how can you respect others?
They: You are right! You were being so kind to him.
Me: And so were all of you being kind to him.
It is the legacy of inhumane treatment. No doubt that Indigenous man was treated inhumanely – he has no respect for himself and the cycle continues. By the way, the omelet was excellent I shall have his this morning, after I finish the blog.
By the way, the Pope became utterly disappointing, continuing in the way of the Roman Catholic Church. But he did at least, bring some attention to the generational inhumanity to the Indigenous. Canada is not alone, by the way. Look at all colonization including other Commonwealth countries, Australia and New Zealand, India, Burma etc etc etc.
This from The Star with links embedded.
“Now on the third day of his pilgrimage, scrutiny is growing of the Pope’s apology for the Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system. Although many believe Francis is sincere and say his apology has helped them heal, others — including several high-profile critics — say it didn’t go far enough. Here’s what the people who trekked out to Alberta to hear from the Pope have to say.
Wait, what? The Pope’s mass focused on the importance of family — striking some as odd, as it didn’t address Monday’s apology or how the residential school system severed ties between Indigenous children and their families and culture.
More: Here’s why Pope Francis’s apology “left a deep hole,” according to Murray Sinclair, a former judge and senator who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Pam Palmeter’s take: Pope Francis, your hollow apology skipped over the Church’s complicity and cover-up of sexual abuse of thousands of children. Here’s how the glaring omission hurts many Indigenous Peoples — and puts more kids at risk.