Ottawa, ON, Aug 04, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Last week, Pope Francis concluded what he has called a penitential pilgrimage. Over the course of the last week, Pope Francis hosted numerous events, attended by thousands of Residential School Survivors, intergenerational Survivors, families, and community members. He has now had the opportunity to meet Métis Survivors to hear their stories firsthand and has reiterated his sentiments of sorrow for what took place at institutions across this country that have left a devastating legacy on the Métis Nation.

The visit and apology by Pope Francis are only just the beginning of much work that remains ahead for the Catholic Church. The Métis National Council (MNC), alongside its Governing Members (GMs) and Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (LFMO), are again repeating the call for the Catholic Church to walk the path of truth, justice, healing, and reconciliation. While the planning and organization of this papal visit were determined centrally by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), with very little input being accepted from MNC, GMs, and LFMO, the MNC maintains that there is a great need for continued yet strengthened collaborative dialogue with the CCCB.

It was encouraging to work with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Assembly of First Nations on this visit and in supporting Survivors. MNC believes that this spirit of unity and collaboration must continue to ensure that all our Survivors, Elders, and their families are able to heal.

During these days that have been at the forefront of Canadian conversations, we must take time to recognize the strength, courage and resilience of Métis Survivors, families and communities as this week has undoubtedly surfaced some challenging and painful memories. We honour each and every Métis citizen who either chose to attend or not attend these events. The Métis Nation is diverse and everyone's pathway to healing is self-determined.

“The apology from the Pope is just the first step towards healing for our Métis residential school Survivors and their families. We know the last few days have been extremely difficult and trying for our delegation. Métis Nation British Columbia remains committed to putting their stories and voices at the forefront of this discussion. We look forward to seeing what other concrete steps the Catholic Church will take to right this historic wrong.”

Lissa Smith, President, Métis Nation British Columbia

“As the Papal Visit comes to an end, the Métis Nation of Alberta will continue working with and supporting Survivors, as we always have. To welcome Pope Francis to our Homeland was a historical milestone on our healing journey, but the path is still long. I hope the Catholic Church continues to walk with us, long after the conclusion of these events”

Audrey Poitras, President, Métis Nation of Alberta

"They were all involved in running that school at some point. Obviously, the Church was involved with it, and then the federal government was involved and the provincial government. This is something that needs to be resolved for the Survivors. My biggest hope is that Survivors are going to feel some comfort with the Pope's message and that maybe there will be some action with respect to the Île-à-la-Crosse school and all of our Métis Survivors."

Michelle LeClair, Vice-President, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan

“This is only the beginning of the journey to reconciliation. Our people have had their stories and experiences ignored and forgotten. The burden of healing has been placed on the Survivors for far too long. Now is the time for action and transparency from the Church. In addition to resources to support the healing journey, we are calling for the release of all documents and records that will ensure those responsible for the hurts caused by residential and day schools are brought to justice once and for all.”

Margaret Froh, President, Métis Nation of Ontario

“The success of the Pope’s pilgrimage to Canada will only be realized once concrete actions are initiated.  The Doctrine of Discovery must be denounced by the Catholic Church to ensure true and meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous people. In addition to crisis help for residential schools Survivors and their families through the Residential School Helpline at 1-866-925-4419, Les Femmes Michif would like to offer that if any Métis people are struggling in light of recent events, please reach out to [email protected] and we will provide you with one of our Grandmother’s Healing kits.”

Melanie Omeniho, President, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak

"This trip has shown again the unity amongst Métis, Inuit, and First Nations in supporting all of our Residential School Survivors and their families. We appreciate that Pope Francis came here and took the time to meet with Survivors and apologize. We recognize that this is another much needed step in our journey of truth, reconciliation, healing, and justice and we hope that the Vatican and the CCCB will commit to further action and join us on this path."

Cassidy Caron, President, Métis National Council