Ottawa, ON – The Métis National Council (MNC)’s delegation is returning from Rome following a weeklong visit, which ended with the long-overdue words of apology from Pope Francis. The delegation, which was comprised of Survivors, Elders, youth, and community members, shared their stories of survival as well as their hopes and aspirations for the future of the Métis Nation during their encounters with the Pope and other church officials. At times emotional and difficult, the trip was an opportunity to share with the world the experiences of the Métis in residential schools, an often-neglected part of our Nation’s history.
President Cassidy Caron, who led the Métis Nation’s delegation, stated that the delegation had invited the Pope on a pathway forward of truth, healing, reconciliation, and justice. “Today’s apology is historic,” explained Caron, “it opens a door for the Métis Nation to continue moving forward on our healing journey and it opens a door for us to continue to fight for action.”
During the General Audience with Pope Francis, the Métis delegation presented the Holy Father with a book of stories, photographs, and other documents collected from across the Métis Nation homeland. Métis fiddlers Alex Kusturok and Brianna Lizotte shared a song with Pope Francis, as well as fellow delegates from the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in attendance at the General Audience.
This General Audience follows a Private Audience between the Pope and the Métis delegation on Monday. During this Private Audience, residential school Survivors Angie Crerar, Antoinette Lafleur, and Emilien Janvier shared their stories of resiliency with Pope Francis. For our Survivors this trip was a step forward in their own personal journeys of healing, and the Métis National Council was honoured to stand beside them over the past week. President Caron shared that she felt that Pope Francis had reflected the words of Survivors into his apology and felt that the delegation had been listened to during their audience with the Pope.
The delegation is looking forward to the next step in the path towards true reconciliation and justice when the Pope visits Canada. For President Caron the work has only begun as “we will continue to advocate for Pope Francis to share those words, those sentiments, what he’s learned and what he’s heard from us back on our homelands”.
The Métis National Council will continue to work with its Governing Members to support Survivors, Families, and Communities across the Homeland to ensure that the Papal visit over the summer is conducted in a meaningful way for the Métis Nation and its citizens. We look forward to the Pope’s apology when he visits our Homeland, so that more of our Survivors may be present. We will be inviting the Pope to visit some of the Métis Nation’s most sacred sights and call on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to include the Métis Nation, in a meaningful way, in the planning for this visit.
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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.