Following decades of hard work and advocacy on the part of Indigenous leadership and survivors, the Vatican has issued a statement repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, signalling a step forward by the Catholic Church in their commitment to walking together in a good way with Indigenous peoples on the journey of reconciliation.
We at the Métis National Council hope the next steps will move beyond mere words to real, tangible actions that centre the needs and experiences of Métis Survivors and their families. The Métis Nation has been consistent and clear about what those actions must include since delivering the Métis Nation’s Pathway Forward for Truth, Reconciliation, Justice and Healing to Pope Francis in the Vatican nearly one year ago to this day.
As acknowledged in the statement released this week, colonial ideology such as the Doctrine of Discovery has contributed to the justification of immoral acts against Indigenous peoples “without opposition from ecclesiastical authorities.” For the Métis Nation, this includes, but is not limited to, the generations of harms perpetuated against Métis children who were made to attend the Île-à-la-Crosse Residential Boarding School. Today, Survivors and Intergenerational Survivors of the Île-à-la-Crosse Residential Boarding School have yet to receive recognition nor compensation for the harms and abuses suffered at this institution that was staffed by the Roman Catholic Mission.
Backed by Métis Nation–Saskatchewan (MN–S), Métis Survivors have started a class action to spur both the Government of Canada and the Saskatchewan Provincial Government to join them at the table to negotiate a resolution that includes a recognition of the harms suffered at the school, failing which the class action will be litigated in court.
As part of the Métis National Council’s Pathway Forward we continue to call on the Pope, the Vatican and the Catholic Church for justice. Justice means demanding accountability of the individuals and collectives who committed crimes and abuses within any of these institutions that have inflicted irreversible harm on our people, communities and Nation, as well as those responsible for the creation and perpetuation of the systems in which those crimes and abuses occurred.
For more information about the Île-à-la-Crosse Residential Boarding School injustice, please visit https://www.united4survivors.ca/