Christianity was a major part of Indigenous boarding schools – a historian whose family survived them explains

During a weeklong trip to Canada, Pope Francis visited a former residential school for Indigenous children in Maskwacis, Alberta, on July 25, 2022. The Ermineskin Residential School operated between 1895 and 1975 in Cree Country, the largest First Nations group in Canada.

As at many boarding schools set up to assimilate Indigenous children, students were punished for speaking their language and sometimes experienced abuse. According to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, 15 children died at this particular school over the years. Several of them succumbed to tuberculosis.

During his visit, the pope said he was “deeply sorry” for “the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the Indigenous peoples.”

Like many other Indigenous people of the U.S. and Canada – especially those, like me, whose family members attended the schools – I listened with interest as Pope Francis asked his audience for forgiveness “for the evil committed by so many Christians.” He apologized “for the ways in which many members of the church and of religious communities cooperated” in projects of forced assimilation while not acknowledging the role that the Catholic Church as an organization played in residential schools.

As a historian who has written about American Indian boarding schools in the United States, and as the granddaughter of school survivors, I have often been troubled by the misinformation in regional and the national media about this complex history.

Religion was a pillar of the forceful campaigns to assimilate Indigenous peoples on both sides of the border but played out differently in the U.S. and Canada. Christianity’s central role is responsible for lingering resentment today, and many Indigenous people, me included, question whether the pope’s apology fell short in holding the church responsible.

Tujuan kami adalah menciptakan tempat yang aman dan menarik bagi pengguna untuk terhubung melalui minat dan kegemaran. Untuk meningkatkan pengalaman komunitas, kami menangguhkan sementara fitur komentar artikel