Anglican Church leader to meet with residential school survivors, elders in Sask. this weekend
Archbishop of Canterbury 'anxious to hear directly from the voices of the most affected': Anglican Church
The spiritual head of the Church of England will meet with residential school survivors and elders in a Saskatchewan First Nation this weekend. The church says will be an opportunity to "repent and atone" for harms it has done in its relationship with Indigenous people.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, will meet with survivors and elders at James Smith Cree Nation, about 165 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, on Saturday.
Archbishop Welby is expected to arrive in Saskatoon on Friday, then make his way to Prince Albert, about 60 kilometres west of James Smith Cree Nation, before going to the First Nation the next day.
James Smith Cree Nation officials confirmed the schedule for the archbishop's visit, but no one was available for an interview this week.
"A significant purpose of this visit is … to repent and atone for where our relationships and actions have done more harm than good — and to honour the sovereignty of Indigenous communities," the archbishop said in a Tuesday statement regarding his visit to Canada this week.
It is unclear whether the Archbishop of Canterbury will apologize for the church's role in the residential school system.
Archbishop Welby said in his statement that the history of the Church of England in Canada has caused "lasting suffering and hurt to the Indigenous communities."
Between 1820 and 1969, the Anglican Church ran three dozen residential schools in Canada, and also ran more than 150 Indian day schools, according to a list compiled for the Federal Indian Day School class action.
The Anglican Church of Canada has twice apologized to residential school survivors — first in 1993, then in 2019 when the leader of the Anglican Church of Canada apologized in an open letter for the church's "cultural and spiritual arrogance," which it said caused harm to Indigenous Peoples.
The archbishop's visit to Canada comes just weeks after Pope Francis apologized in Rome for the conduct of some members of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada's residential school system. The head of the Catholic Church is set to visit Canada this summer.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is considered the spiritual leader of the Church of England, although the titular head of the church is the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
Archbishop Welby is visiting Canada at the invitation of Archbishop Linda Nicholls, the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who invited the archbishop last year.
"When treaties were broken in subsequent years in several ways and the church did not speak up, that was a breaking of a sacred covenant," Nicholls said.
"It has left a legacy of harm."
Nicholls said that starting Thursday, the ecclesiastical province of Rupert's Land, which includes all the Anglican dioceses in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Arctic, will be holding a meeting in Prince Albert.
The archbishop's itinerary also includes a reception with Indigenous leaders in Toronto before he returns to the U.K. Tuesday.
Support is available for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools or by the latest reports.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
- An earlier version of this story identified the Archbishop of Canterbury as the head of the Anglican Church. In fact, while the archbishop is considered the spiritual leader of the Church of England, the titular head of the church is the British monarch. who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.Apr 30, 2022 9:00 AM CT
With files from Katia St. Jean