Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to speak with the Pope about a call for the Catholic Church to apologize for its role in the residential school system.
Trudeau met with Indigenous leaders Wednesday in Ottawa in the wake of the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) final report on the schools that saw children taken from their homes and placed in state and church-run institutions.
The report included a list of 94 recommendations to reconcile for the system, which was rife with abuse. Among them is a request that Pope Francis apologize for the Catholic Church's role in the schools:
We call upon the Pope 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. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.
The TRC has called the school system "cultural genocide" and say more than 3,000 children died while in attendance.
Though Trudeau has promised to address recommendations that fall under federal purview, he stopped short of saying he'd specifically ask for an apology.
"And I'm certainly intending to work with the Catholic Church, including with the Holy See, to move forward on implementing that recommendation. To ask him directly to engage with this issue," he told reporters, according to the Globe and Mail.
Pressed further about an apology, the Ottawa Citizen reports he simply said "I look forward to having a conversation with His Holiness about this."
"I'm not going to pretend that it is my job to order other governments or other organizations to do anything, but I certainly look forward to a constructive engagement where we can address this issue, because quite frankly, there are multiple levels of different organizations that have a role to recognize in this terrible part of Canada's past," he added, reports CBC.
Other Calls to Action from the TRC include restored funding for the CBC, a commitment to addressing the high number of Indigenous children in state care, and improve health and education access for Indigenous people in Canada.
Lauren Strapagiel is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.
Contact Lauren Strapagiel at email@example.com.
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