PEI

No apology from Pope 'a setback' to P.E.I.'s Indigenous people, chief says

The leader of the Abegweit First Nation Chief Brian Francis says he was "shocked, dismayed and hurt" that the Pope has refused to apologize for the Catholic Church's role in residential schools.

'One would think that a leader leads by example and does what is right'

Abegweit First Nations Chief Brian Francis, left, isn't happy with the lack of apology for residential schools from Pope Francis. (Steve Bruce/CBC/Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

The leader of the Abegweit First Nation Chief Brian Francis says he was "shocked, dismayed and hurt" that the Pope has refused to apologize for the Catholic Church's role in residential schools.

Chief Francis is a Catholic, and he expected Pope Francis to say sorry.

"After what is known out there about the residential schools and the tremendous trauma that it has caused to the Indigenous peoples across Canada, that he would refuse to apologize — it's very hurtful," Francis said. 

"We all know sometimes being a leader is not always popular, but one would think that a leader leads by example and does what is right," Francis said.

An apology on Canadian soil was one of the 94 calls to action recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

The head of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, however, said the Pope felt he couldn't personally apologize for residential schools.

'Revictimization'

Francis has family and community members who attended Schubenacadie residential school in Nova Scotia. 

"It almost comes to revictimization, people tend to question themselves, our community members," he said. "It's a setback."

Francis is considering sending a letter to Bishop Richard Grecco, the head of the Catholic Church on P.E.I., and to Pope Francis too. 

"This has shaken my faith a little bit," he said, adding he will continue attending church. 

"It will never be the church it claims to be, nor will it ever be complete until it meaningfully reconciles with the Indigenous peoples of this great country," Francis said. "What better place to start than with an apology?"

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With files from Laura Chapin

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