(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) NWT Regional Chief Gerald Antoine is pleased with the outcome of private and public meetings with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican this week and looks forward to the Head of the Catholic Church visiting Canada later this year to meet with First Nations and other Indigenous peoples.
“I am honoured to have led the delegation to the Vatican and to stand with survivors, youth and knowledge keepers and to be joined by our Métis and Inuit brothers and sisters,” said AFN NWT Regional Chief Gerald Antoine. “The acknowledgment of genocide and the apology offered today by Pope Francis is a significant gesture and an historic step to fulfilling the requests of the former residential school students which is supported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #58. The next step is an apology to all our original nation of families in our home, Turtle Island.”
The AFN delegation, consisting of survivors of residential institutions, leaders, Knowledge Keepers and youth met with Pope Francis at the Vatican yesterday to seek acknowledgement of the claim by the Roman Catholic Church related to the right of domination over everyone and everything and an apology for its role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual violence of First Nations in Catholic-run Residential Institutions to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.
At a public gathering at the Vatican earlier today Pope Francis offered an apology to the full Indigenous delegation (First Nations, Metis and Inuit) and committed to visiting Canada later this year.
“The words ‘I am very sorry’ are for my mother who attended St. Anne’s institution and all who did not live to see this day, especially our little ones who lay in unmarked graves across Turtle Island,” said AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “This long overdue apology by the Pope is welcomed and we must work with urgency on the next steps on our healing path forward, which includes action on reparations and revoking the Doctrine of Discovery.”
The rescinding of the Doctrines of Discovery is the most important requirement as it is the seed that gave birth to genocidal processes which the residential institutions is one of these genocidal processes of domination.
“We leave Rome optimistic to receive an apology offered to all our nation of families when the Pope visits Turtle Island later this year,” said AFN Regional Chief Antoine. “I humbly stand in unity with the full AFN, Métis and Inuit delegation respecting all survivors of residential institutions and their families and encourage us to look forward, to host and welcome Pope Francis’s visit to our homeland. There is still much work to be done for the planning and decision making for this potential visit.”
The AFN supports all 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) to encouragingly be aligned to support and assist all original Nations of families. TRC Call to Action #58 supports the families requests on 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.
For more information on the AFN delegation please visit: www.afn.ca/vatican/.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations Chiefs in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
Office of the National Chief
Andrew St. Germain
Office of the National Chief
Assembly of First Nations
Office of Regional Chief Antoine