Ottawa, ON – The Métis National Council will be departing for Rome, where they will be meeting with Pope Francis and other officials from the Catholic Church to discuss the legacy of the residential school system in Canada and its impact on the Métis Nation.
The delegation, which is composed of Survivors, Elders, youth, and community members, will be meeting with Pope Francis in a private audience on March 28th. They will share the stories, letters, poems, photography, and other works that have been collected from across the Métis homeland in the months leading to this important trip.
“As we prepare to leave Canada to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican, I feel deeply humbled to carry the stories of Métis Survivors, families, and communities, as well as their hopes for the future. We are one nation of many stories. Through the voices of our delegates and those of the many Survivors who shared with us in the months leading up to this historic visit, the Pope will begin to hear the Métis Nation’s truth,” shared President Caron.
The Métis National Council hopes that by sharing these important stories of survival and perseverance that Pope Francis will gain a better understanding of the legacy of residential schools and its impact on the Métis Nation. The delegation will also share the Métis Nation’s vision for a path forward on reconciliation, one that is grounded in truth, justice, and healing.
Elder Antoinette LaFleur says Métis people must find a way to find closure and she hopes, in some way, this trip to the Vatican helps. “Young people I meet – they don’t know, they weren’t there – but they’re still hurting. It’s being passed down. It’s like a hatred being passed down from generation to generation.”
The delegation will also share the Métis Nation’s expectations for the Pope’s visit to Canada. MNC has been firm in its request that the formal apology to Survivors and their families take place on Canadian soil where the atrocities were committed.
“The significance of a Papal apology on the very soil that residential school atrocities occurred cannot be stressed enough. It must be done here, in Canada. Reconciliation with the Métis Nation can only begin with the Church accepting full responsibility for the traumas it inflicted. It must then be followed by a true commitment to working alongside the Métis Nation on its pathway of truth, justice, and healing,” stated President Caron.
Since the postponement of the original travel date, the Métis National Council has been collecting the stories of Survivors, families, and communities who continue to be affected by the Church’s role and complicity in the residential school system. Documents have been prepared for the Pope and will be presented to him on the day of the General Audience later this week. The general audience with Pope Francis will be livestreamed on the Métis National Council Facebook page, beginning at 7 AM EST.
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Since 1983, the Métis National Council has been the national and international voice of the Métis Nation within Canada. Through the Canada-Métis Nation Accord, the MNC advocates on behalf of its Governing Members—the democratically elected Métis Governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia—to advance Métis rights and interests within their respective jurisdictions, including the implementation of the Métis Nation’s inherent right to self-determination and self-government. The MNC is committed to accountability and transparency within its operations, and to its relationships with MNC Governing Members. Cassidy Caron is the President of the Métis National Council.