Message of support from the Queen on Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Day

The Queen said she would join Canadians in reflecting on “the painful history Indigenous peoples endured in residential schools” in a message marking the country’s first National Truth and Reconciliation Day.

Canada has accepted the grim discovery this year of hundreds of human remains in anonymous graves in former Church-run schools – institutions to which Indigenous children have been forcibly transferred for generations.

The Queen’s message was sent to Canadians through the country’s first Indigenous Governor General, Mary May Simon, former Ambassador and longtime advocate for Indigenous peoples.

The Queen chatting with the Governor General of Canada a few months ago (Buckingham Palace / PA)

The monarch said, “I join all Canadians on this first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to reflect on the painful history that Indigenous peoples have endured in residential schools in Canada, and the work that remains to be done. do to heal and continue to build an inclusive world. company.”

From the 19th century to the 1970s, over 150,000 Aboriginal children were forced to attend publicly funded Christian residential schools in an attempt to assimilate them into Canadian society.

Thousands of children have died from disease or other causes, and many of them have never returned to their families.

Almost three-quarters of the 130 boarding schools were run by Roman Catholic missionary congregations, while others were administered by the Presbyterian, Anglican and United Church of Canada, which is today the largest Protestant denomination in the country. .

The Canadian government has recognized that physical and sexual abuse is rampant in schools, with students beaten for speaking their mother tongue.

In June, it was announced that a group of indigenous leaders would visit the Vatican later this year to demand a papal apology over the role of the Roman Catholic Church in residential schools.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said Indigenous leaders will travel to the Vatican between December 17 and 20 to meet with Pope Francis and “foster meaningful encounters of dialogue and healing.”

Pope Francis has expressed sorrow after the remains of 215 children, some of whom were only three years old, were found buried at the site of what was once Canada’s largest indigenous residential school near Kamloops, Colombia. British.

He urged religious and political authorities to shed light on “this sad matter”, but he did not offer the apologies requested by First Nations and the Canadian government.

The Canadian government formally apologized for the politics and the abuse in 2008, and the Presbyterian, Anglican and United churches apologized for their role in the abuse.

The papal apology was one of 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, but the Canadian Bishops’ Conference said in 2018 that the Pope cannot personally apologize for the residential schools.

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