Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has urged Roman Catholic officials to do more to honour their commitments to residential school survivors.
He stated this on Monday in B.C after visiting Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Nation where he apologized for not responding to an invitation to join the community for the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30.
Survivors, First Nations leaders, academics, and others are now calling for action.
Trudeau said that as a Catholic himself, it’s particularly disappointing to see the Church continuing to refuse to do the right thing.
“We have seen, unfortunately, from the Catholic Church, a resistance to taking on responsibility, either financial or moral, for its role in residential schools,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said the other Christian churches — United, Presbyterian and Anglican — that signed on to the landmark 2005 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement have taken “extraordinary steps as partners on this path of reconciliation,” but the Catholic Church has not.
“I think the millions of Catholics like me across this country expect the church to step up and fulfill its moral responsibilities, its legal and economic responsibilities, its historic responsibilities, but also to practice what it quite literally preaches,” Trudeau said.
The Roman Catholic Church operated the majority of residential schools, such as St. Augustine Residential School (Smoky River), located on the north shore of the Peace River northwest of Edmonton. Survivors and others are calling for action following a report that revealed new details about Catholic compensation efforts.