Treaty 6 chiefs disappointed by lack of progress since Papal apology

It has been one year since the Papal apology

papal apology pope francis wears headdress

Pope Francis briefly wears the headdress he received as a gift. Photo: APTN file

It’s been one year since the Papal apology, where Pope Francis told the assembled crowd in Maskwacis that he was “deeply sorry” for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system.

But since that apology, local First Nations leaders don’t feel like there has been any further action from the local Catholic church.

“A stronger response from the Church is still needed,” said Leonard Standingontheroad, grand chief of Treaty No. 6 territory and chief of Montana First Nation in Alberta said in a statement released on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of the Pope’s visit.

“It’s been a year since the visit with very little progress to show for it.”

Papal apology
Treaty 6 chiefs speaking at a press conference during the 2022 Papal apology

In addition to his visit and apology, Francis also subsequently repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery this year.

These two actions fulfill some of the long-standing demands of the head of the Catholic Church.

Some of the chiefs said that although they were impressed with Francis’ taking the first step, they feel that the local churches still need to do more.

“With his visit Pope Francis created an opportunity for change, but the Church here in Canada needs to catch up,” said Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Chief Tony Alexis.

“Over the past year, some of our People have found healing, but more have been left in confusion. Just as we should have had a stronger role in planning the Papal Visit, we need to be equal partners in the healing process.”

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Alexander First Nation Chief George Arcand, who was grand chief of Treaty 6 during the Papal visit, said in an emailed statement that First Nations had not been brought to the table for discussions on reconciliation in the church.

“The apology was a meaningful first step from Pope Francis but it wasn’t supposed to end there,” said Arcand. “A year has passed and we still haven’t been invited to the decision-making table. We are disappointed in the Church – in the institution. “We were supposed to walk together, but instead we’ve been left behind.”

APTN News reached out to the Confederacy of Treaty 6 for details on what they would like to see from the local church but did not hear back.

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