The apology from Pope Francis, who “asked forgiveness for the evil” committed by the Church towards Indigenous peoples in Canada, was generally well received by several First Nations leaders on Monday.
• Read also: Residential schools: the pope “asks forgiveness for the evil committed” against the Aboriginal peoples
An opinion shared by the Grand Chief of the Huron-Wendat nation, Rémy Vincent.
“I think it was the least we could do for the Pope to show up here in Canada and apologize. I also hope that it will be repeated in the other places he will frequent during his trip, ”he exclaimed on the airwaves of LCN.
In his view, the visit of the sovereign pontiff will be able to help certain survivors and relatives of survivors of the residential school system.
“It is extremely important for these people. There are those who need that to begin a healing. [...] I think it was interesting as a start for the trip, “added the one who intends to participate in the activities surrounding the visit of the pope to Quebec on Wednesday and Thursday.
The fact remains that the pope's visit stirs up heavy memories for various leaders, like Dr. Stanley Vollant, who admitted that this visit reopens old wounds that he thought were buried deep within him.
"The pope's visit makes me realize that these wounds are not healed," said the Innu surgeon and founder of Puamen Meshkenu, whose mother was a resident.
"For me, it's a small step forward, but I think it's important when an abuser apologizes to his victims. It allows the victims to be able to heal, but the road to recovery will be long and it will not be for tomorrow, ”continued the doctor.
“I am very, very moved. I see that Pope Francis seems quite sincere in his apologies. He talks about the wrong of the Church, and I think that's something I wanted to see. Yes, apologies [are important], but also acknowledging the wrongs that the Church has done to First Nations.”
A former resident now director of community services and projects in Manawan, Thérèse Niquay, believes that the pope's apologies represent an acknowledgment of failure.
“For us, what is important is that the truth, that light be shed on all the actions of the Church, in particular on the Indian residential schools. Even today, we can speak of the inadequate actions of the Church”, underlined the one who believes that the apologies of the pope, “as a person”, are sincere.
“All this work of reconstruction, it is inside the Church itself that they must review what they convey in their actions,” she added.