N.W.T. bishop to apologize to Dene for residential schools
Dene who attended residential schools in Canada will receive an apology Wednesday from the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Northwest Territories.
Bishop Murray Chatlain of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith will address the issue of residential schools, and give an apology to chiefs attending the Dene Nation's meeting in Inuvik, N.W.T. at 4 p.m. MT.
Chatlain's apology comes after Pope Benedict XVI met with aboriginal leaders at the Vatican on April 29, giving an expression of "sorrow" for the abuse aboriginal students suffered at residential schools run by the Catholic Church.
"I think a lot of people are looking forward to the apology from the Catholic Church," Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus told CBC News on Tuesday.
"Last month, the Pope offered an apology, his regrets to what took place in the schools. In Canada, each diocese is set up by itself, so they have to give apologies from each diocese, and that's what's happening here. So we're quite excited about that."
A total of about 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children across Canada were taken from their families to attend the schools from as early as the 19th century to 1996.
Most of the schools were run by missionaries from the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United churches.
Last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper also offered an apology on behalf of the government of Canada in the House of Commons.
Shortly after Harper issued the government's apology, Chatlain told CBC News his diocese would apologize to former residential school students in the territory.
The Dene Nation meeting with Chatlain Wednesday will be open to the public.