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Seeking reconciliation after ‘horrific’ discovery

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

June 16, 2021

We have been following the shocking news of the recent discovery of the buried remains of 215 lost indigenous children, students at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School located in British Columbia, Canada. One tribal chief described the scene as a “horrific illustration of consequences of racism, settler-colonialism and privilege…against indigenous nations.” A Roman Catholic Religious Order operated the school for many decades and then, in the 1960s, the Canadian government ran the facility.

We apologize to family members and to all indigenous people for the deplorable mistreatment caused by those Catholics who took any part in the abuse suffered by children in these Catholic residential schools. While we cannot bring back the lives of these precious children or erase the pain, anger, and anguish suffered by families and communities, we can offer prayers with a resolve to work to ensure that such atrocities will never happen again. We especially want to assure our sisters and brothers at the St. Regis Mission and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe of our prayers. Why is it that so often it is the vulnerable, the innocent, our children who suffer such heinous crimes because adults have not learned how to get along?

As you know, the first Mohawk and first Native American to be canonized, Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, lived in our area. We honor our saint, seeking her intercession as we seek truth, healing and reconciliation. Let us make an effort to learn the true history of the struggles of the Native Americans. We have a moral responsibility to learn about the suppressed histories of our neighbors. Once truth is found, justice is attainable. In so many ways, ignorance of the past opens the doorway for humanity to recommit the crimes perpetuated previously.

Saint Kateri, Pray for Us.

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