Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE), Canada, Calls Catholic Bishops of Canada to Facilitate the Request of Indigenous Leaders for Pope Francis to Formally Apologize on Canadian Soil for the Legacy of Catholic-run Residential Schools


Together with Canadians across the country and people around the world, we grieve and stand in solidarity with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, as the remains of 215 children buried in unmarked sites have been located on the grounds of the former Catholic-run Kamloops Indian Residential School.  

As settlers on this land, we have been slow to learn the history of the devastating impact of colonization, religious coercion, and ongoing systemic racism on First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, despite overwhelming evidence. As Catholics, we have been slow to acknowledge the depth of generational trauma resulting from the ongoing legacy of residential schools run by our own Church.  As individuals, we have been slow to face, and work to dismantle, our own inherited prejudices. 

From a place of listening, mutual respect and humility, members of CNWE are committed to being allies with Indigenous peoples. In recent days, we have listened as First Nations leaders have asked Pope Francis 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 residential schools.” This request, from the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Report Calls to Action (#58) remains unmet. We call on Canadian bishops and cardinals to facilitate Pope Francis coming to Canada when it is safe to do so.

We call on all Catholic entities and dioceses to cooperate fully with the requests of Indigenous peoples to provide all documents related to residential school investigations. We also urge all the bishops of Canada to re-commit to meeting the terms of the Settlement Agreement regarding ongoing education and support (TRC Calls to Action #59-61) and to justly meeting all financial compensation obligations.

Survivors have been telling us for decades of the abuse that occurred in residential ‘schools’ and our hearts break for generations of Indigenous families whose children were not only taken away to these schools, but never returned home. We all have a moral and spiritual responsibility to be allies with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada, cooperating in the urgent work of truth, reconciliation, and justice.