Tk’emlups te Secwepemc is calling on Pope Francis to visit the band in person on a planned trip to Canada, saying it would be “deeply meaningful” and “a historic moment” for residential school survivors.
The Vatican announced on Wednesday that the Pope had accepted an invite from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to visit the country on a date yet to be determined.
On Thursday, Tk’emlups Chief Rosanne Casimir urged the Pope to visit Kamloops Indian Residential School and offer an apology to Canada’s residential school survivors.
“It would be deeply meaningful to welcome the Holy See, Pope Francis, to Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, as our heart-wrenching news was the first of the wave of confirmations of unmarked graves with thousands more lives lost coming to light,” Casimir said Thursday morning in a statement.
“It’d be a historic moment for Kamloops Indian Residential School survivors and for our community who continues to navigate the impacts following the horrific confirmation of the missing children.”
Casimir will be part of a delegation of First Nations leaders slated to visit the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis in December.
In May, Casimir announced the findings of a ground-penetrating radar survey of a portion of the grounds of the old residential school, saying more than 200 unmarked graves had been located.
Some Catholic leaders and organizations have apologized for their role in Canada’s residential school system, but the Vatican has yet to take responsibility.
Casimir asked Pope Francis to apologize, accept responsibility on behalf of the Church and “demonstrate acts of contrition,” including raising funds for residential school survivors.