The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations is calling upon Catholics to stay away from Church services. The call comes as the group is calling upon the leader of that church, Pope Francis to apologize for the Church’s role in Residential Schools in Canada.
Speaking on Friday, FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt acknowledged the reopening of wounds following the discovery of a mass grave of 215 bodies of children at a former Residential School in Kamloops, B.C.
“We call on all members of the Roman Catholic Church to talk to their Bishops, talk to their Archdeacons, talk to their Pastors and their Ministers to put as much pressure as they can on the Pope to do what’s right and apologize.”
FSIN officials say this conversation has been going on for 30-plus years and that this has to be the finish line and not the starting point.
Kinistin First Nation Chief Felix Thomas says people have been asking what they can do to stand in solidarity with First Nations people. He feels a boycott of the Mass at the Catholic church by the faithful will send the message to Church leaders.
“We have done all we can and what we need is for every Christian, every Canadian to now start to be part of this grieving process and to be part of doing what’s right. We have tried to push the needle as far as we could do it.”
Thomas says they need support from everyone as they lobby the Church to acknowledge its role in the Residential School System in Canada. The Catholic Church ran the majority of Canada’s 100-plus Residential Schools over a 120 year period.
In 2009, then Pope Benedict XVI expressed his “personal anguish” in a meeting with survivors. Pope Francis recently expressed his personal pain following the mass grave discovery, but did not issue an apology for the Church’s actions in managing Residential Schools.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report was issued in 2015. The Commission called on the Catholic Church to issue an apology within a year of the report being released acknowledging, “the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”