Local reaction is pouring in following Pope Francis’ apology for the involvement of the Catholic church in Indian residential schools.
Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie said after watching the apology, “he’s angry and disappointed.”
“Come on let’s get real, it was a forced apology. It was a political apology. When someone is forced to apologize, I don’t think that is a sincere apology,” said Chief Louie
Thousands of Indigenous children were forced into residential schools where they were separated from their culture, from their families, and abused.
“That church is a multi-billion-dollar organization. It’s rich, very rich and it caused the loss of our First Nations language, a lot of cultural damage, and it should be bucking up some of those billions to go towards the damages of the past,” added Louie.
Chief Louie feels more needs to be done beyond financial retribution and an apology.
“There should be a criminal investigation done, criminal,” he said.
“If just two non-native graves were found in this country, what would the RCMP do? They’d launch a criminal investigation. Here you have 215 unmarked graves in Kamloops, where’s the criminal investigation? There is still too much racism.”
He added that the apology came too late and now is the time for action.
“No more nice words; no more phony, forced apologies. We need some anger and action. It is anger and action time in my opinion,” said Louie.
Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel also weighed in on the Pope’s apology in a statement from the Syilx Okanagan Nation Alliance.
“Apologies and empty words from the Prime Minister, government officials, or a trip to the Vatican will never heal the pain and hurt that our people were subjected to, were witness to, and continue to endure,” said Chief Gabriel in a statement.
“We are past apologies — there is no forgiveness for the murder and attempted murder of our children. We have no faith in the processes being taken by colonial institutions, and are demanding that the Vatican, Roman Catholic Church, and Government of Canada move beyond empty apologies.”
Chief Gabriel also demanded accountability from the Catholic Church.
“They have actively and explicitly tampered with evidence of their crimes and need to be investigated and held accountable. We will not be silent about those governments or organizations working to protect their own interests — tampering with evidence, deflection of responsibility and accountability,” said Chief Gabriel.