Statement from Senator Murray Sinclair on Pope Francis Apology

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Senator Murray Sinclair
Senator Murray Sinclair

WINNIPEG – NEWS — The Honourable Murray Sinclair, former senator and former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and General Counsel at Cochrane Saxberg Law Firm, issued the following statement:

“I want to acknowledge the Pope’s apology today. This is an important moment for Indigenous peoples, for Canada and for Catholics around the world. It is long past time that the Church will begin to take responsibility for its role in the Residential School System. It was a dark chapter of Canada’s colonialist history, one which the Church was a key co-author.

There has been ongoing harm against Catholics as a result of the injustices perpetrated by the Church. My grandmother was a strong Catholic. If she had been alive in recent years, she would have been truly hurt by the Church’s ongoing refusal to apologize and take responsibility for its actions. She would have reason to be proud today.

Today, the Pope has put the Church on a better path. It allows Catholics to return to the strength of their faith. The hope, faith, justice, and truth that Survivors have sought for so long are indeed Catholic values. Now is the time to return to those values and learn from them as we walk forward together on the path of reconciliation.

While the apology is an important milestone, there is still much work to do. On the strength of this historic acknowledgement, the Church must push forward to address deniers within their congregations. The stories of residential school Survivors belong in Church services and Sunday schools. It was a great injustice that Catholics – and all people – must learn from.

I would also like to say ‘happy birthday’ to Chief Willie Littlechild. He has been on this journey to Rome for a long time. I wish we could go back in time to tell that six-year-old who attended a residential school in Alberta, that one day he would be in the room, hearing an apology directly from the Pope, for all he has been through.

When the Pope comes to Canada this summer, to visit our territories, all Survivors can finally hear this apology for themselves.

As these milestones occur, and as we uncover more graves and records, I hope that all Canadians take these moments to learn and reflect. Ask yourself: What are you doing to support the work of reconciliation?”