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July 25th, 2022

Indigenous peoples deserve truth, justice and meaningful action from church

NDP critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations Lori Idlout made the following statement:

“Indigenous peoples have been calling on the Catholic Church to show leadership in the Truth and Reconciliation process for years. Pope Francis visiting Canada is seen by some as a step in that direction, but for many the papal visit is a reminder of the Catholic Church’s failure to meaningfully respond to the harm it has caused. As individuals we will react differently during Pope Francis’ visit, but as a community we will continue to be there for each other on our collective healing path forward.

The church’s role in the genocide perpetrated against Indigenous peoples still affects families and communities today. The legacy of residential schools is one of pain, harm and loss for thousands of Indigenous peoples who are still paying the price for the Catholic Church’s conduct toward our peoples. The inter-generational trauma that survivors’ families are still struggling to cope with is not easily healed. As a crucial step on that journey, Indigenous peoples deserve an unequivocal apology from the Catholic Church. But words alone are never enough. Immediate action is urgently needed to ensure healing from crimes committed against Inuit, First Nations and Métis, at the hands of the churches.

The Catholic Church and the government worked together in harms and crimes, and they must work together to ensure that the harm done to Indigenous peoples is being addressed in meaningful ways. Cooperating with ongoing investigations and making all documents requested by survivors, police and local governments available is the very least that the Church and the federal government can do for Indigenous peoples.

The Pope’s visit is an opportunity to forge a new path toward healing—it must not be symbolic. He must listen to the Indigenous peoples he meets with and speak directly with survivors to truly understand the crimes and harms that the Catholic Church inflicted on generations of Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples. And, following those conversations, Pope Francis and the leaders of the Catholic Church in Canada must act on the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action #59-61.

New Democrats will never stop fighting for justice for Indigenous peoples. We’ll continue to push this government to work with the Catholic church to deliver what Indigenous peoples need to heal from the past and build a better future.”


The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her Residential school experience: 1-800-721-0066