IRS Survivors, Kiiwetinoong MPP, NAN Deputy Grand Chief, attend events during Papal Visit
Tim Brody - Editor
Kiiwetinoong MPP Sol Mamakwa, Ontario NDP Deputy Leader and critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, recently travelled to Edmonton hoping to meet Pope Francis, who was on a Papal Visit to the former Residential School in Maskwacis on July 25.
Mamakwa carried with him a birchbark scroll with the testimony of other survivors calling for the revocation of the Doctrine of Discovery.
Mamakwa released the following statement on July 21:
“This visit will provide a unique opportunity for Pope Francis to listen and dialogue with Indigenous peoples on our own territories. I will be travelling to Edmonton to meet the Pope during this visit.
“Pope Francis’s visit to Canada brings with it complex emotions for Indigenous peoples, including myself. I will be sharing greetings with him on behalf of all of the people of Kiiwetinoong, especially those of the many who survived the Indian Residential School system.
“It is my hope that the message shared by the Pope next week will be a catalyst for healing, including the release of all records and sacred items being held by the Church, the revocation of the Doctrine of Discovery, and the prosecution of those who participated in the abuses of children in the schools.
“We know that every survivor has a story. I hope that the visit of Pope Francis will be led by the spirit of listening to these stories and a true commitment to healing.”
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum accompanied delegations of Indian Residential School (IRS) Survivors during the Pope’s visit to Canada this week.
“Survivors and the families of those we have lost through the Residential School system will face a wide range of emotions this week, and we acknowledge their strength and courage to make this journey to meet with His Holiness. We also acknowledge the Survivors who chose to remain home during this difficult time. We pray for all Survivors that this will be a significant moment in their healing journey, no matter where they may be in their journey,” Achneepineskum stated in a July 25 media release.
Achneepineskum will attend events in Edmonton and Quebec City with Survivors from across NAN territory.
“Everyone responsible for the Indian Residential School system must accept responsibility for their role to the generations of harm done to our members and communities that continues to this day. Everyone must take the concrete action required if they truly speak truth in the words they say. The events of this week will not be an end. Survivors want justice, which some have fought for for years. We will be there for them to compel the Catholic Church, other religious institutions, and the Government of Canada to admit the truth and accept their responsibilities so we can move forward together in a good way,” Achneepineskum said.
A Papal apology is one of the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report.
IRS Survivors, their families, and anyone requiring emotional support or assistance can contact:
• IRS Survivors Society at 1-800-721-0066 (toll-free)
• IRS Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419
• NAN Hope 1-844-NAN-HOPE (626-4673)