Archbishop of Montreal issues apology for residential school system in Quebec

The Archbishop of Montreal, Christian Lépine, recognized on Friday that residential schools in Quebec destroyed the lives of many Indigenous families.

The Catholic Church, as an institution, has yet to apologize for the role it played

Christian Lépine, the archbishop of Montreal, apologized to Indigenous communities during a mass on Friday for the harms caused by residential schools. (Charles Contant/CBC)

The Archbishop of Montreal offered an apology to Indigenous communities on Friday, in the wake of the discovery of what are believed to be the remains of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Christian Lépine's apology came during a mass on Friday evening at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in downtown Montreal. The event was organized in memory of those children.

In a written statement, the archbishop recognized that residential schools destroyed the lives of many families.

"I am deeply distressed to know that, as Catholics and as Canadians, we collaborated in view of God and the world with this policy of assimilating the First Nations people under the guise of education," Lépine said in a statement.

"We must acknowledge the damage that we have caused; we must commit to assisting each family still seeking the truth about their little loved one who disappeared without a trace, so that they may finally be able to grieve; and we must offer our apologies for the wrongdoing that has been committed."

The apology comes a week after Prime Minister Trudeau asked the Catholic Church to recognize its role in the harms done during its administration of residential schools. 

The Catholic Church, as an institution, has yet to apologize. Pope Francis expressed his "pain" last Sunday and called for the respect of the rights and culture of Indigenous people.