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May 13th, 2022

The Pope’s visit must be more than a symbolic gesture

NDP critic for Indigenous Services, Lori Idlout, made the following statement:

“Indigenous peoples have long called on the Catholic Church to show leadership in the Truth and Reconciliation process. The news that Pope Francis will visit Canada is met with a myriad of emotions by the First Nations, Inuit and Métis. The hurch’s role in the genocide perpetrated against Indigenous peoples still affects families and communities today.

While Indigenous peoples deserve an unequivocal apology from the Catholic Church, immediate action is urgently needed to ensure healing from crimes committed against Inuit, First Nations and Metis, at the hands of the churches.

The Catholic Church and the government worked together in these harms. As such, they must work together to finally ensure that the harm done to Indigenous peoples is being addressed. This must include cooperating with ongoing investigations and making all documents requested by survivors, police and local governments available. The Liberal government knows what they need to do for Indigenous peoples seeking answers. There can be no more false promises or delays. Indigenous peoples deserve truth, justice and a government that has the courage to act.

The Pope’s visit must not be symbolic. He must listen to the calls of Elders in Nunavut to not just stop in Iqaluit, but actually go visit former Residential Schools 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.

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 is needed so Indigenous peoples, their families and communities can heal.”