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Current Affairs

Pope Francis apologises to indigenous people of Canada

Date: 05 April 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Pope Francis has apologized for actions of the Roman Catholic Church that was involved in abusing indigenous children in Canada.

 

Background

The church ran residential schools for indigenous children for more than 100 years. Investigations had revealed that many children died due to the abuse.

 

Details

  • The pope apologized in from of delegates belonging to the indigenous groups of Canada such as Metis, Inuit and First Nations communities.

  • The apologies were extended to families of the children who lost their lives. Recent investigations were able to locate more than 1000 unmarked graves in previous school sites.

 

Church scandal

  • In the 19th and 20th century, Roman Catholic churches used to run residential schools for indigenous children for re-education.

  • Children were forcefully taken away and made to endure abuse, both physical and sexual. The aim of the schools was to make them culturally assimilated.

 

Atrocities by the institution

  • Children in these schools were beaten, forced to practice Christianity and not allowed to speak their native language.

  • Investigations revealed that more than 6,000 children died during the period. Many groups had advocated church to issue apology for their actions.

 

The residential schools

  • They were modeled on schools set up for Indigenous children in the United States. The first church-run Indian Residential School was opened in 1831.

  • The Indian Act of 1876 described who were Indians. Under this act, children were taken away from their families and sent to institutions.

  • The schools were overcrowded and funding was low. They mainly relied on funds from church to operate.

 

Accusations

  • The Truth and Reconciliation commission accused the schools of cultural genocide. The government was said to assist in destroying Aboriginal cultures and languages.

  • Children were also subjected to harsh discipline, malnutrition and starvation, poor healthcare, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect.