Bishop Joseph Nguyen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kamloops has offered his apology to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation following the band’s announcement last month that it has discovered the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves.
The band said ground-penetrating radar used over the Victoria Day long weekend had found the remains near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School building.
In a video posted on June 10 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kamloops’ YouTube channel, Nguyen said: “Immediately after hearing the horrifying and shocking report on the finding of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, I responded to Chief Rosanne Casimir and all of the Tk’emlúps First Nations communities by expressing my deepest sympathy, profound sorrow and genuine apology. On behalf of the Diocese of Kamloops, I wish to, again, offer my heartfelt apology to all who have been affected by this horrific report.”
Nguyen’s apology follows a June 2 apology from Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller.
In 2013, Miller also 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 1991, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Catholic order that ran the Kamloops Indian Residential School from the 1890s until 1969, apologized for its role in the system.
Tk’emlups and other First Nations are still requesting an official apology from Pope Francis, but to date, the head of the Roman Catholic Church has not offered one, nor had his predecessors.