Earlier this month, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s part in the abuse and trauma inflicted on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children at Canada’s residential schools. Since the apology, Peace Wapiti Public School Division’s (PWPSD) Indigenous Education Services team has had time to reflect on the historical event and its significance in the country’s journey to truth and reconciliation.
Indigenous Service Providers Jackie Benning and Andrea Rosenberger-Deleeuw say watching the apology after a week of meetings between the Church and Indigenous delegates was emotional and brought hope for further reconciliation. Angie Crerar, local Elder and Board member for the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican and both Ms. Benning and Ms. Rosenberger-Deleeuw say they couldn’t be prouder. “She is extremely important to so many of us … What stood out the most was her ability to approach this trip and meeting with such grace, friendliness, and strength.”
Ms. Rosenberger-Deleeuw says that, throughout the Indigenous delegations’ visit to Rome, she often thought of her great-grandmother, a Cree woman, residential school survivor, and devout Catholic. “Seeing so many Indigenous peoples there together, supporting one another, and using their voice to carry messages from their respective Nations was a tremendous thing to see.”
The team says they are looking forward to learning more from local Elders and continuing their own journeys to reconciliation, while guiding PWPSD’s school communities to do the same.