Justin Trudeau Demands Pope Apologize After Discovery of Unmarked Graves


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is demanding that Pope Francis apologize for the Catholic church doing the Canadian government’s bidding now that two sets of mass graves have been found at former residential schools for indigenous children.

Four Catholic churches have been burned in British Columbia, all near a former school where 215 children have been found. Another 751 unmarked graves have been found at a residential school in Saskatchewan. No claim of responsibility for the church burnings has been made, but authorities link the fires to the news of the mass graves.

Some said Trudeau doth protest too much to put all the blame on the pope:

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As Canada reels from the impact of the findings, the United States could be on the brink of similar revelations, now that Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo tribe,  has called for an investigation into any undocumented burials at residential schools for Native Americans.

“The Interior Department will address the inter-generational impact of Indian boarding schools to shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past, no matter how hard it will be,” she said, according to a news release. “I know that this process will be long and difficult. I know that this process will be painful. It won’t undo the heartbreak and loss we feel. But only by acknowledging the past can we work toward a future that we’re all proud to embrace.”

On Friday, Trudeau said the pope needs to make a personal appearance and personal apology, according to Reuters.

“I have spoken personally directly with His Holiness Pope Francis to press upon him how important it is not just that he makes an apology but that he makes an apology to indigenous Canadians on Canadian soil,” Trudeau said.

“I know that the Catholic church leadership is looking and very actively engaged in what next steps can be taken,” he said.

Pope Francis has said since the discoveries that he was troubled by the findings, but did not apologize.

His reaction did little to blunt the wrath of indigenous groups in Canada, according to Reuters.

“We’re all pained and saddened. Who isn’t?” said Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan.

Canada’s residential schools served about 150,000 indigenous children between 1831 and 1996, most of whom were compelled to attend by government policy, according to Reuters. Most in Canada were run by the Catholic church, with others run by various other Christian denominations.

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Saa Hiil Thut, 72, who survived the Kamloops school in British Columbia where 215 graves were found, said violence was the rule.

“The violence there was paramilitary, and it was controlled with great strictness,” he said. “Punishment was the way they kept silence and kept order.”

Ruth Roulette, 69, recalled her first day at a school run by nuns in Manitoba.

She was punched in the face not knowing what to do with a pencil and paper. “There was blood everywhere. I didn’t know what I did wrong. I just cried and cried, and then I had to clean up all the blood,” she said.

In an Op-Ed in The Washington Post, Haaland said American residential schools were also halls of suffering.

“Over nearly 100 years, tens of thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their communities and forced into scores of boarding schools run by religious institutions and the U.S. government. Some studies suggest that by 1926, nearly 83 percent of Native American school-age children were in the system. Many children were doused with DDT upon arrival, and as their coerced re-education got underway, they endured physical abuse for speaking their tribal languages or practicing traditions that didn’t fit into what the government believed was the American ideal,” she wrote.

“The lasting and profound impacts of the federal government’s boarding school system have never been appropriately addressed. This attempt to wipe out Native identity, language and culture continues to manifest itself in the disparities our communities face, including long-standing intergenerational trauma, cycles of violence and abuse, disappearance, premature deaths, and additional undocumented physiological and psychological impacts.”

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This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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