(Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George, BC) — BC Assembly of First Nations’ (BCAFN) Regional Chief Terry Teegee was in Edmonton, Alberta this week to attend the Papal Visit and witness the apology to Indigenous Peoples for abuses they suffered at Residential Schools in Canada. Pope Francis began his ‘penitential trip’ at Maskwacis, Alberta at the site of the Ermineskin Indian Residential School. The apology is an important step toward new relationships and healing for First Nations and communities.
"The apology is a signal for all members of the Roman Catholic Church to accept the responsibility, and the shame, of the evil atrocities that were committed upon generations of Indigenous peoples,” stated Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “Going forward, Pope Francis’ apology will become meaningful and sincere when he rescinds the Doctrine of Discovery and denounces the concept of terra nullius which, under international law, gave license to explorers to claim ‘vacant’ lands in the name of European sovereigns," he continued.
The 2022 Papal Visit fulfills the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action #58 - The Pope is called upon to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children in Catholic-run schools.
"Together we are confronting difficult truths that have shaped Canada’s economic, social and cultural institutions that continue to systematically deprive First Nations of freedoms, liberty and rights," continued Regional Chief Teegee. "Today, Indigenous peoples continue to experience unsafe and life-threatening situations because of beliefs and attitudes enforced for so long by the Catholic Church. We need to see more than just symbolic gestures, including fulfilling their obligation to pay $25 million as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement."