While calls continue for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church as a whole to apologize for the trauma created by residential schools, the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver has offered an apology in wake of the discovery of the remains of 215 children on grounds near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
On Twitter and on the Archdiocese of Vancouver's website, Archbishop J. Michael Miller offered an apology and listed steps he is committed to in support of Fist Nations, families and communities impacted by the recent news.
“In light of the heartbreaking disclosure of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, I am writing to express my deep apology and profound condolences to the families and communities that have been devastated by this horrific news,” Miller wrote in the statement.
“Each time new evidence of a tragedy is revealed, or another victim comes forward, countless wounds are reopened, and I know that you experience renewed suffering.”
In 2013, Miller apologized publicly before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, saying: “I wish to apologize sincerely and profoundly to the survivors and their families, as well as to all those subsequently affected, for the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of those Catholics who perpetrated mistreatment of any kind in these residential schools.”
In his latest statement, posted online on June 2, Miller said :the Church was unquestionably wrong in implementing a government colonialist policy which resulted in devastation for children, families and communities.”
The statement comes five days after Miller and Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese Bishop Joseph Nguyen issued statements in response to the burial site discovery. The statements relayed their “sadness” and “sympathy,” but did not include an apology.
To read Miller’s full June 2 statement that included an apology and the steps he has pledged to take to support First Nations communities, click here.