The Pope's Tour to Apologize to Canadian Natives Met With Mixed Reactions

The top leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, apologizes for the abuses done by missionaries to the residential schools run by Catholic staff in Canada.

This is the Catholic church’s way to reconcile and be near to the communities and help them in their healing process, especially from historical traumas that they inflicted. The traumas include grave offenses such as sex abuse, slavery, war, and others, committed by the residential schools.

Flo Buffalo no longer drinks milk until this day since the traumatic incident happened to her in the late 1960s. Two nuns coerced her to drink sour milk, which she refused to do while attending the Catholic-run Ermineskin Indian Residential School for Indigenous children.

“The nuns, they were real mean,” Buffalo said in an interview with the AP news. She said her hands were hit severely with sticks and demonstrated how she still can’t fully straighten her right hand.

Despite this traumatic experience, Buffalo remains Catholic. However, she said she would avoid the crowd at the pope’s visit, adding, “It shouldn’t be him apologizing; it should be them (the nuns).”

Buffalo said that the nuns were abusive and never apologized. They might no longer be around, but the traumas remain, and they keep on haunting those who were abused.

Further, a 2015 report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada listed 139 schools, primarily Catholic-run. A total of 150,000 students were sent to these residential schools.

The report also showed over 3,200 children died, and many were unable to reach their homes after contracting various illnesses, including tuberculosis and malnutrition. Some even tried to escape from the residential schools. The report discloses that these children lived in unsafe facilities where physical and sexual abuse occurred.

Like Buffalo, Rose Pipestem, a survivor of the same school that Buffalo had attended, also firmly believes that the perpetrators should be the ones who must send apologies to the victims.

However, Pipestem expressed that she would still see the pope since she is not “mad at him.”

Unlike Buffalo, Pipestem could not remember what abuses she may have suffered at the school since she lived there when she was three years old after losing her mother.

A few years later, her classmate told her that a nun beat her for not doing her work on the blackboard the way the nun wanted it to be done. She was shocked when she heard about the abuse. Pipestem added that she reached the point of questioning the values of the Catholic religion.

“Why did they allow all these things to happen?” she said during an interview with the AP news.

On July 24, Pope Francis arrived in Edmonton, Alberta, and greeted a Canadian indigenous woman with a kiss on her hand. These were just a few of the visits he has had in his efforts to reconcile with the victims of the abuses the Indigenous groups faced from the Catholic-run residential schools.

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