I am grateful for my invitation to the Citadelle upon the Pope’s arrival in the city of Québec. I am writing today, with Regional Chief Gerald Antoine, IRS and Day School portfolio lead for the Assembly of First Nations, to support the participation of members of my national executive in the impending papal visit to Canada.
Our staff have reported to us a pattern of disregard by organizers of the papal visit when it comes to planning and key decision-making regarding the Pope’s itinerary. What has become apparent is that this visit and apology has evolved to be more for the benefit of Canadian Catholic parishioners and the global Christian community and less about actual moves for reparations and reconciliation with the First Nation community that was harmed by institutions of assimilation and genocide.
We are concerned that our community members, particularly survivors, are being re-victimized in this unilateral process. It is unfortunate that we as First Nations have not been the driving force in the planning of this state visit despite that this visit was really meant for us as the original inhabitants of Turtle Island. The reality is the CCCB and church community planned the event while First Nations were kept on the periphery of the planning process. Our staff have gleaned from information released through the papal visit website and press clippings what we understand to be the Pope’s itinerary.
The anticipated apology potentially represents a monumental moment for us and may serve to help put our shared collective pain behind us. What we need to do, then, is to acknowledge it together and work together in a spirit of true collaboration on the healing path forward.
In writing to express our concern, we are actually reaching out for your allyship with the church community to ensure that our future relationship is based in mutual respect, trust, and cooperation.
We wish to express our best wishes for a successful event at the Citadelle and look forward to your reply.
National Chief RoseAnne Archibald
Regional Chief Gerald Antoine
CC: Regional Chief Ghislain Picard