The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations held a news conference at the last standing residential school in Saskatchewan to call on the Pope to visit the province this summer.
FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron is pressing the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to arrange a stop for Pope Francis so survivors can hear his apology in person like other survivors did when they travelled to Rome.
“We had told him, you come to our region-our traditional lands where there’s the last standing school here in Muskowekwan, where it means something for the people,” Cameron said.
The Muskowekwan Indian Residential School is on Treaty 4 Territory where the treaty promise of Education was made.
Some Indigenous leaders have questioned whether the Papal visit this summer to locations where pilgrimages already happen is simply a reward for Indigenous people who still practice the Catholic faith, rather than a sign of reconciliation.
Susan Beaudin with the Regina Archdiocese’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee said the Catholic Church has got to walk the healing journey with residential school survivors.
“I felt very conflicted at many times about being part of the Archdiocese as a residential school survivor-questioned my role many, many times, and even today,” she said. “But, I’ve come to the understanding that this is much, much bigger than me and what I think and what I think people are going to think about me.
“We have to hear from the Pope that he’s sorry.”
Archbishop Don Bolen says he is sorry for what he calls the “waves of suffering” of Indigenous people from the residential schools.
Bolen just returned from Rome, where he was visiting on a different matter. Bolen said the Pope is in poor health and may not be able to visit many sites when he comes to Canada.
He said he and others are working to take as many survivors as possible to see the Pope at one of his stops in late July.
The Pope is expected to visit Quebec City, Iqaluit and Edmonton.