Archbishop of Vancouver J. Michael Miller has issued an apology after the unearthing of children’s remains near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The Archbishop stated that all church archives will be handed over to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation to aid in the investigation as an act of transparency.
“I take this opportunity to reflect upon the apology I gave publicly before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2013,” said Miller. “Words to which I remain committed and accountable: ‘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.’”
Miller committed to the following steps in a subsequent disclosure:
Full transparency with church archives and records regarding all residential schools while strongly urging other Catholic and government organizations to do the same;
Offering support and counselling for those whose family members may be buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School;
Offering to assist with technological and professional support to help the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and other affected Nations in whatever way they choose to honour, retrieve and remember their deceased children;
Committing to support the same process and resources es to all Nations whose territories Catholic run residential schools were forcibly located, and which fall within the historical boundaries of Archdiocese of Vancouver;
Renew efforts to listen to indigenous people.
This announcement comes shortly after Chief Roy Whitney of the Tsuut’ina Nation called on the Catholic Church to open all of its residential school records to law enforcement.
“It is with the deepest sadness that we learned of the discovery of over 200 deceased
children buried at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia,” said Whitney stated last week.
"The tragedy of their anonymous interment during a separation from their families, and the understandable worry that arises as to causes of death, are only slightly mitigated by the knowledge that they are now in peace with the Creator. Not only do our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in affected British Columbia Nations, but we pledge any other assistance that may be required in the days ahead.”
“While church officials were the custodians of these children, the federal government had a fiduciary duty of care,” added the Chief.
In wake of the allegations, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has called on Calgary’s public and Catholic school boards to rename Langevin and Bishop Grandin schools.
“It’s time for us to figure out ways to truly include indigenous peoples in the prosperity of this nation,” said Nenshi.