Canada and Indigenous peoples 2022

Written by  //  August 3, 2022  //  Canada  //  No comments

Achieving clean drinking water
in First Nations communities

Compare and contrast with the first visit of Pope John-Paul II in 1984
See DISCOURS DU PAPE JEAN-PAUL II AUX AMÉRINDIENS ET AUX INUIT of
10 September 1984.

2-3 August
Pope Francis asks for ‘forgiveness in the name of the church’ for abuses at residential schools
Pope Francis said on Wednesday he felt the pain of survivors of Canada’s residential school system and he asked for “forgiveness in the name of the church” for the role many of its members played in abusing children and attempting to erase Indigenous cultures.
The pope dedicated his talk at his weekly general audience to his trip last week to Canada, where he delivered a historic apology for the church’s role in the government-sanctioned schools, which operated between 1870 and 1996.
Pope Francis’s visit to Canada was full of tensions — both from what was said and what wasn’t
Christine Jamieson, Associate Professor, Theological Studies, Concordia University
(The Conversation) Reactions to Pope Francis’s apology in Canada for harm perpetrated by members of the Catholic Church on children at Indian Residential Schools were far from unanimous.
While some have acknowledged the apology was genuine and deeply felt, there was tension and a mix of welcome reception and protest.
These tensions were illustrated during Cree woman Si Phi Ko’s protest. After former Truth and Reconciliation commissioner Chief Wilton Littlechild placed a headdress on the Pope’s head, Phi Ko could not be silent as she saw it as a sign of disrespect. But for Chief Littlechild, Pope Francis choosing to visit his territory was an honour.
This tension, poles of reception and protest was evoked not only from what was said by Pope Francis in his apology, but by what was omitted.
What was omitted
While recognizing the importance of the apology, former TRC commissioner Murray Sinclair saw a “deep hole” in it.
Sinclair said the Catholic Church’s role in the cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples was more than just the work of a few bad people.
What was also omitted, in some instances, was the presence of survivors — from the procession to sitting in the front seats during the eucharist, both in Edmonton and at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. Indigenous symbols and ceremonies were also omitted from the altar and during the service.
While Pope Francis sincerely sought reconciliation, reconciliation did not seem to touch these forms of celebration and the clash of cultures was palatable.

24-30 July
Why Pope Francis may be hesitant to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery
(CBC) On May 4, 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued the papal bull known as “Inter Caetera” that provided Portugal and Spain the religious backing to expand their territories in Africa and the Americas for the sake of spreading Christianity. The papal bull said that land not inhabited by Christians could be claimed, while “barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.”
While the doctrine justified the colonization, conversion and enslavement of Indigenous peoples, and the seizure of their lands, scholars say it also laid the foundation for Canada’s claim to land and the Indian Act, which laid the groundwork for residential schools.
Dias says other edicts soon replaced the Doctrine of Discovery. For example, by 1537, Pope Paul III had issued his own decree that opposed the enslavement of Indigenous peoples. He wrote that they should “by no means to be deprived of their liberty or the possession of their property, even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ.”
The Vatican did address the doctrine in a statement to the United Nations Ninth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in April 2010.
The doctrine, the Vatican argued, had been abrogated as early as 1494 and that “circumstances have changed so much that to attribute any juridical value to such a document seems completely out of place.”
The Doctrine of Discovery had also been abrogated by other papal bulls, encyclicals, statements and decrees, it said.
Similarly
The Doctrine of Discovery explained and what would happen if the Pope revoked it
(National Post) The idea that Europeans could claim land not belonging to them, which is inherent in the Doctrine of Discovery, paved the way for the Indian Act and residential schools

Pope says genocide took place at Canada’s residential schools
Pontiff concludes ‘penitential pilgrimage’ of reconciliation between Catholic Church and Indigenous people
Ka’nhehsí:io Deer
(CBC) Pope Francis described Canada’s residential school system and its forced assimilation of Indigenous children as genocide. Brock Pitawanakwat, the co-ordinator of the Indigenous Studies program at York University, called the Pope’s comments ‘late,’ but said they were an ‘important development.’
While the word genocide wasn’t heard in any of Pope Francis’s addresses during a week-long trip to Canada, on his flight back to Rome, he said everything he described about the residential school system and its forced assimilation of Indigenous children amounts to genocide.
Pope Francis, in Iqaluit visit, asks forgiveness for residential schools
Pope Francis wrapped up his Canadian visit on Friday evening in Iqaluit with an outdoor public speech before a crowd of both admirers and critics, and again offered an apology for the “evil perpetrated by not a few Catholics” involved in Canada’s residential school system.
The roughly four-hour visit — which went more than an hour longer than planned — included private meetings with residential school survivors, as well as public performances by traditional singers and drummers. It culminated in the Pope’s public speech outside a local elementary school.

Doctrine of Discovery is a ‘legal fiction,’ but revoking it won’t herald immediate changes, experts say
The principle is entrenched in Canadian and U.S. law and may be a challenge to dismantle.
(APTN) Pope Francis and his entourage of Vatican officials on their week-long Canadian pilgrimage have faced mounting pressure to renounce, repudiate and revoke something scholars increasingly describe as a legal fiction rooted in imperial ideology: the Doctrine of Discovery.
For centuries, this doctrine justified the seizure and dispossession of Indigenous territories and nations all over the world. Canadian judges have based their country’s sovereignty claims on it for 134 years.
While experts say a public papal renunciation won’t bring major domestic legal changes overnight, it will provide an impetus for lawmakers and judges to change their thinking.

Pope denounces ‘evil’ of sexual abuse during service in Quebec City
Pope Francis, who is presiding over Thursday evening prayers in Quebec City, acknowledged the sexual abuse inflicted on “minors and vulnerable people” for the first time since arriving in Canada.
In his homily, Francis said the Catholic Church in Canada is on a new path after being devastated by “the evil perpetrated by some of its sons and daughters.”
He said addressing sexual abuse and other such “crimes” requires “firm action” and an “irreversible commitment.”
Francis has apologized during stops in Alberta and Quebec for the role Catholic institutions played in the Indigenous residential school system but until now had not directly spoken of sexual abuse.
Trudeau urges Vatican to take concrete action on Indigenous artifacts and residential school documents
The office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today released a statement about his meeting yesterday with Pope Francis at the Citadelle of Quebec.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with His Holiness Pope Francis
Trudeau thanked the Pope “for visiting Canada to engage with Indigenous Peoples on their ancestral lands, acknowledge the truths about the residential school system, and recognize its painful legacy for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples in Canada,” the statement reads.
Trudeau and the Pope “discussed the importance of the Roman Catholic Church’s continued meaningful engagement with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in advancing healing and reconciliation. They also discussed the need for the church to take concrete action to repatriate Indigenous artifacts, provide access to residential schools documents, address the Doctrine of Discovery, and ensure justice for survivors, including for the Rivoire case.”
‘It’s empty’: Montreal Mohawk women’s group slams Pope’s apology
Apology isn’t enough to heal the wounds created by the Catholic Church’s mistreatment of First Nations families and communities, some say.
“I don’t know how anyone can apologize for what they did, which is the genocide of our people, the stamping out of our languages, the killing of our children, the experimentations — all of that in order to take the land away from us,” Mohawk Mother Kahentinetha said Wednesday
Although he branded the forced cultural assimilation of First Nations children a “deplorable evil” and “disastrous error,” Pope Francis hasn’t mentioned sexual abuse in his remarks since landing in Canada. He also hasn’t brought up the so-called Doctrine of Discovery, a centuries-old decree from the Vatican that countries such as Canada used to justify the colonization of Indigenous lands.
Canada’s bishops want Catholic Church to issue new statement on Doctrine of Discovery
(The Star/Canadian Press) Canada’s bishops are working with the Vatican in the hope of issuing a new statement from the Catholic Church on the Doctrine of Discovery, the organizers of the papal visit said Wednesday.
Many Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors had hoped Pope Francis would renounce the policy, which stems from a series of edicts, known as papal bulls, dating back to the 15th century. Countries, including Canada, have used the doctrine to justify colonizing lands considered to be uninhabited, but were in fact home to Indigenous Peoples.
The pontiff did not directly mention the Doctrine of Discovery when he delivered his apology to residential school survivors in Maskwacis, Alta., on Monday, which has prompted criticism it failed to fully recognize the role played by the Catholic Church in the residential school system.
Pope Francis’s apology evokes faint praise from Indigenous groups in U.S., Canada
“An apology must include steps forward that are both justice-seeking and that open pathways for healing,” said Deb Parker, chief executive of the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.
Parker singled out the so-called Doctrine of Discovery, a series of 15th-century edicts and decrees by the Catholic Church that justified and encouraged Europe’s colonization of Indigenous lands in the Americas in the name of furthering Christianity.
“The time is now to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery,” she said. “Pope Francis was asked to do exactly this by the Indigenous delegation to the Vatican four months ago and has yet to respond.”
Pope Francis apology: What wasn’t said in address to residential school survivors
In the lead-up to the Pope’s visit, Indigenous leaders made specific calls about what they wanted to see in the apology and where they hoped it would lead to next.
A revocation of the Doctrine of Discovery
The Assembly of First Nations has been among the loudest bodies calling for the renouncement(sic) of the 15th-century policy.
It was a decree from the Vatican that countries including Canada used to justify the colonization of Indigenous lands.
[What is the Doctrine of Discovery? As with the discredited notion of “terra nullius”, the doctrine of “discovery” was used to legitimize the colonization of Indigenous peoples in different regions of the world. It was used to dehumanize, exploit and subjugate Indigenous peoples and dispossess them of their most basic rights. Based on such fictitious and racist doctrines as “discovery” and “terra nullius”, European nations were relentless in their determination to seize and control indigenous lands. Papal bulls, such as Dum Diversas (1452) and Romanus Pontifex (1455) called for non-Christian peoples to be invaded, captured, vanquished, subdued, reduced to perpetual slavery, and to have their possessions and property seized by Christian monarchs. Such ideology led to practices that continue unabated in the form of modern day laws and policies of successor States. This Doctrine is the foundation of laws.]
Pope Francis’s “Penitential Pilgrimage” to Canada’s Indigenous Communities
Papal acknowledgment of the Church’s transgressions is relatively new, but Francis has tried to make it central to the job.
(The New Yorker) …he arrived on Sunday [24 July], in Edmonton, Alberta, returns to Rome on Saturday, and, most days, will take part in just one event each morning and afternoon—and a sombre mood attends it.
Pope acknowledges need for ‘concrete action’ in mending relationship with Indigenous people
Francis completes pilgrimage in Lac Ste. Anne, Alta., on Tuesday
The sounds of First Nations drumming and Métis fiddlers echoed across the shores of Lac Ste. Anne in Alberta, as Pope Francis arrived at the national historical site Tuesday for an annual pilgrimage significant to many Indigenous people.
… The visit was part of the Pope’s six-day “penitential pilgrimage” in Canada to express “sorrow … healing and reconciliation” between the Catholic Church and Indigenous people.
“In this blessed place, where harmony and peace reign, we present to you the disharmony of our experiences, the terrible effects of colonization, the indelible pain of so many families, grandparents and children. Help us to be healed of our wounds.”
The pontiff acknowledged that in order to achieve that, “effort, care and concrete actions” are required on the church’s part.
While he did not expand on what those concrete actions may be, the Pope did say that they will rely on the intercession of Indigenous women and elders.
Pope’s residential school apology prompts mixed emotions from Manitoba survivors
Phil Fontaine, the former chief of the Assembly of First Nations and a residential school survivor says, for him, accepting the Pope’s apology is an important step in moving forward. But not all survivors feel that way.
Pope Francis didn’t mention sexual abuse, day school survivors in long-awaited apology in Canada
‘A deep hole’ — Murray Sinclair, Romeo Saganash harshly criticize Pope’s apology
Francis didn’t acknowledge Catholic Church’s leading role in residential schools, says senator who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Pope Francis faced blistering, high-profile criticisms over his apology to Indigenous survivors of residential schools in Canada from those who say it fell far short of the demands and expectations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
… A group calling itself Mohawk Mothers, or kanien’kehà:ka kahnistensera, is planning a protest in Montreal to mark his arrival in the province, which was once Canada’s Catholic heartland.
The group rejects the Pope’s apology…and noted in a statement that the Iroquoian language used by Indigenous Peoples living in the St. Lawrence Valley when European settlers arrived had no words for saying “I am sorry,” only for saying “I will make it right.”
… The group is also demanding the removal of a giant steel cross that sits at the summit of Mount Royal, the successor of a wooden cross said to have been erected when French explorer Jacques Cartier arrived in the territory.

14 July
Ottawa says it will support First Nations fight against Quebec’s new language law
The federal minister of Indigenous services said Thursday she supports the will of Indigenous communities to be exempt from Quebec’s new language law, which limits the use of English in the public service and increases French-language requirements in schools.
Patty Hajdu told a news conference she was “preoccupied” to hear that Indigenous leaders think the language law, known as Bill 96, will have a negative impact on the rights of First Nations children to be educated in the language and culture of their choice.
“We cannot put barriers in the way of children striving to reach their full potential, including barriers that involve language,” Hajdu said. “We will continue to stand by and defend the leaders with whom I have the opportunity to work. I see it as an important part of my role as minister.”
Hajdu made the comments after participating in a signing ceremony for a new agreement under which Ottawa will give $1.1 billion over five years to First Nations communities in Quebec to help fund education. The ceremony was held on the Mohawk territory of Kahnawake, south of Montreal.

10 May
First Nations leaders say Quebec has ignored their pleas to be exempt from Bill 96
Kanien:keha’ka and speakers of Kanien’kéha — the Mohawk language — are raising concern over a proposed Quebec law that would update the province’s existing Charter of the French Language.
(CBC) Quebec says it won’t change Bill 96 to exempt Indigenous youth from having to take extra French courses in CEGEP, despite mounting calls from First Nations leaders who say their efforts to rebuild their languages and cultures are in jeopardy.
Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer — who held a news conference at the National Assembly Tuesday alongside Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador and Gesgapegiag First Nation Chief John Martin — said her community would hold protest actions until it felt heard.

11 April
Outdoor education program gives First Nations youth in Saskatchewan a new taste of old ways of life
Learning to ride dog sleds, hunt game and pick berries and medicine, students at White Bear First Nations are discovering the benefits of a land-based education
The program, which incorporates activities like picking berries, harvesting traditional medicines, tanning hides and trapping, is not only helping Indigenous students get the credits they need to graduate, it is helping them embrace their traditional way of life.
Kevin Lewis, an assistant professor in curriculum studies at the University of Saskatchewan, has been certifying land-based educators for over 20 years in northern Saskatchewan. He says the curriculum for courses like Mr. Schmidt’s comes from the rivers, the wind, the land, and traditional teachings, and often reflects the spiritual side of Indigenous people. It is an authentic experience, with culture braided throughout the class activities. Education like this revitalizes an Indigenous way of living, he says. It helps instill an appreciation of lifelong learning and reinforces a sense of Indigenous identity.
The demise of traditional Indigenous practices is one of the painful consequences of the residential schools system, he says. Many young Indigenous people haven’t learned these traditions because the relatives who would’ve taught them were taken away from their families and forced to learn residential school curriculum.

1 April

Pope apologizes for ‘deplorable conduct’ of some Catholics in residential schools

(WaPo) After years of resisting calls to do so, Pope Francis on Friday apologized for the “deplorable conduct” of some Catholics in Canada’s residential school system for Indigenous children, saying he was “deeply grieved” by the stories of “suffering, hardship, discrimination and various forms of abuse” from survivors.
Speaking to an audience that included an Indigenous delegation that traveled from Canada to the Vatican this week to press for an apology, Francis said he felt “shame” for the role Catholics have had “in the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.”
“All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the pope said at the Apostolic Palace. “For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness, and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”
Francis reiterated a pledge made last year to visit Canada, where he said he would be “better able” to express his “closeness.”

Canadian Bishops welcome Pope’s apology to Indigenous peoples
(Vatican news) Pope Francis asked for pardon during an audience with indigenous Canadians Friday in the Vatican, in the wake of recent revelations of abuse in Canada’s residential school system. The Pope also expressed his hope to visit the nation this year
Pope apologises to indigenous Canadians for wrongs at residential schools
Pope hopes to visit Canada in July; jokes: “not in winter”
Indigenous leaders pleased, call apology “historic”
Pope feels “sorrow and shame” for attempt to erase culture
Prime Minister Trudeau praises apology, welcomes visit

30 March
B.C. reveals 89-point action plan to advance the rights of Indigenous Peoples
Government and Indigenous leaders herald 5-year plan as historic step toward reconciliation
The 89 actions address a wide range of issues, including governance, land and water stewardship, salmon, education, anti-indigenous racism, child welfare, policing and justice, data collection, health care, sport and recreation, Indigenous languages, climate change, B.C. place names, cannabis policy and high-speed internet access.
Each of the 89 actions notes which provincial ministry is responsible for its implementation.
Premier John Horgan called the plan a roadmap to do “what has never been done on planet Earth before.”
“This … is a first for any government in the world. It will drive transformative change in the relationship with Indigenous Peoples and help us build a brighter future for everyone,” said Horgan.

11 March
First Nations drinking water settlement open for claims from communities, individuals
$8-billion settlement follows class-action lawsuits over unsafe drinking water
After a years-long fight for clean drinking water, Indigenous communities and individuals in Canada are a step closer to receiving money from a class-action lawsuit that was settled with the federal government for $8 billion last year.
The claims process under the settlement opened up to submissions on Monday. Indigenous communities now have until Dec. 22 to file their claims, while individuals have until March 7, 2023.
The legal fight began in 2019, when two separate lawsuits were filed against the federal government — one by Curve Lake First Nation and Neskantaga First Nation, both from Ontario, in the Federal Court of Canada, and the second by Tataskweyak Cree Nation in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench — concerning prolonged drinking-water advisories on First Nations reserves across the country.

10 March
Canadian pipeline groups spend big to pose as Indigenous champions
Oil and gas companies are ‘Indigenous-washing’ their ads to garner support for projects on First Nation lands
The fossil fuel groups spent some C$122,000 (US$95,249) on more than 400 targeted Facebook and Instagram ads over the past two years relating to various oil and gas projects throughout the country. The ads spiked last November during Indigenous land defense actions on the Coastal GasLink pipeline in British Columbia and solidarity protests across Canada. The vast majority of the ads, which were shown some 21m times in total, were linked to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the site of intense protest and violent police crackdown in recent years.

3 January
Ottawa reaches $40-billion deal with First Nations over child welfare
The federal government has reached a $40-billion agreement in principle related to First Nations child welfare, with half the money earmarked to compensate adults who went through the system as children and the other half directed toward reform.
The parties reached the agreement on New Year’s Eve, on the last day of negotiations, which included the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and representatives of class-action lawsuits related to Indigenous child welfare. The federal government will reveal details of the non-binding agreement on Tuesday.
Mary Teegee, who represents British Columbia on the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s board, confirmed on Sunday that $20-billion will be directed toward compensation and $20-billion to reform.

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