US & Canada

Trudeau to ask Pope for apology for Canada's residential schools

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives at the ancient Greek Theatre of Taormina during the Heads of State and of Government G7 summit, on May 26, 2017 in Sicily. Image copyright AFP/Getty Image
Image caption Justin Trudeau meets with Pope Francis on Monday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected next week to ask Pope Francis for a formal apology over the Catholic Church's role in the country's residential school system.

The request stems from a report into Canada's history of taking indigenous children from their parents and sending them to residential schools.

Many children experienced neglect and abuse while far from their families.

Mr Trudeau meets with the Pope on Monday.

The "call to action" from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) report also requests the pontiff to deliver the apology in Canada.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A woman reacts to the release of a preliminary version of report in June

As an example the TRC report pointed to 2010, when Pope Benedict apologised to victims of child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland and acknowledged the sense of betrayal in the Church felt by victims and their families.

Mr Trudeau's Liberal party have promised to fully implement all 94 recommendations issued by the TRC in 2015.

In 2008, former prime minister Stephen Harper issued an apology on behalf of Canadians for the Indian Residential Schools system, calling it "a sad chapter in our history".

A year later, Pope Benedict expressed "his sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church" to a delegation from the Assembly of First Nations, a national advocacy organization, who went to the Vatican.

In 2015, Mr Harper met with Pope Francis and called attention to the findings by the commission.

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Media caption'The nun rubbed my face in my own urine'

The residential school system forcibly removed some 150,000 aboriginal children from their families over the course of a century, with the goal to assimilate them on the assumption their own cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal.

The TRC report has called it "cultural genocide".

According to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, about 16 out of 70 Catholic dioceses in Canada were associated with the former residential schools.

Most schools were operated as joint ventures with Anglican, Presbyterian or United Churches.

Those churches have all also issued apologies in various forms.

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