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Catholic bishops’ forgiveness of residential school ‘means nothing’ without action, says survivor

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A Manitoba residential school survivor says public forgiveness for residential schools made by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops this week is too little, too late.

“Today, their forgiveness means nothing to me. It ‘s not honest, it’ s not true,” said Gerry Shingoose, who was forced to attend the Muscowequan Residential School in Saskatchewan from 1962 to 1971, told Winnipeg on Saturday.

“They have to take responsibility.”

The sentiment reflects what was expressed by the Assembly of First Nations in the hours after the bishops issued their statement on Friday.

National Chief RoseAnne Archibald expressed mixed feelings about the pardon and said she was disappointed that the statement did not invite the Pope to Canada to offer a pardon of his own.

Shingoose agreed and said survivors like her should have been invited to listen to the apology reading, rather than just reading about it in the news.

She said she also wants to see the church investigated and held criminally responsible for the abuse caused within the residential school system.

‘An important step’

AndrCarrier, a vice president at the Manitoba Mtis Federation, agreed that Catholic organizations have had many years to apologize for their inclusion in the residential school system.

But he said it is never too late for an apology.

Andr Carrier is vice president of the Manitoba Mtis Federation. (Zo Le Gallic-Massie / Radio Canada)

“It’s an important step, a strong position or foundation towards reconciliation, and to ensure that we move forward in this terrible part of our history where I had [has] did not protect us and [has] caused a lot of damage to our families, “Carrier said.

He said now is the time for the church to acknowledge the damage done between generations by residential schools and to recognize “the damage they have done by not acknowledging the atrocities that have taken place”.

“The damage that has been done is so ingrained in our community and our families,” Carrier said.

“But I truly believe that the first step is an apology. And the next step will be to ensure that we provide resources to cope with the pain and suffering we have gone through over the past decades.”

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