Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir was chosen to represent British Columbia, as one of thirteen delegates, that recently went to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. On April 12, 2022, Kúkpi7 provided an update to membership about what was presented during the 2-hour time slot with his Holy See.
There were 4 major themes to the presentation:
- Residential Schools and Unmarked Graves
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Papal Apology and Visit to Canada
- Healing and Reconciliation
For Residential Schools and Unmarked Graves, the delegates explained the impacts of residential school and the mark that it left on a survivors and intergenerational survivors. We lost our language and culture, our ties to families and thought that the abuse and neglect was normal. As adults we have unresolved trauma, and many suffer from issues with family life, intimacy, low self-esteem and lack of self-regulation resulting in high rates of poverty, homelessness, and interactions with police. The Pope was provided with 2 pairs of moccasins that had been taken to ceremony that that the Father could see them and reflect on the children that did not make it home. When he comes to Canada, he is to return the moccasins. The finding of the unmarked graves at TteS and then other places across the country was discussed. The delegates requested that the church to cover the costs of the locating these unmarked graves, recovering the lost children, and dealing with intergenerational healing. The Pope was called on to apologize directly to survivors.
The messaging on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission included explaining the Calls to Action, the 10 principles to advance reconciliation and the Calls to Justice for the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). It is expected that UNDRIP will be used as a framework for reconciliation. Our treaty, constitutional and human rights must be respected. It was explained that reconciliation is a process, not a destination. There is the need to look to other forms of reconciliation. We are hopeful for the future. We want to be heard, respected, and ensure that no one is left behind.
The request for the Pope to visit Canada and apologize to our survivors was the next main theme. Residential schools are a very dark chapter in our history. We want to bring honour and dignity to our children, that were literally cast aside at residential schools. A formal, meaningful apology to the survivors and families is a first step. Other acts of contrition include real accountability from the church, full disclosure of documents, funding to revitalize of our languages and cultures and a mandate for all the local diocese to working with First Nations to determine what we need to heal. We need this work to start immediately as we are losing our survivors. This is about truth telling.
The fourth theme was Healing, and this was led by the youth delegates. The request included investment into long term healing for survivors and intergenerational survivors. The government of Canada and the Catholic Church spent billions of dollars destroying our language and culture so can commit that to rebuilding. The Doctrine of Discovery needs to be repudiated as a racist document and the system of colonization needs to be addressed. We are still being imprisoned for protecting our lands. We are calling on the Pope the acknowledge the harm done.
Kúkpi7 also provided an overview of the AFN media release that spoke to similar themes.