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Archbishop of Canterbury arrives in Prince Albert, Sask., apologizes to residential school survivors

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Archbishop of Canterbury apologizes to residential school survivors
Archbishop of Canterbury apologizes to residential school survivors – Apr 30, 2022

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made an historic apology this weekend to residential school survivors in Saskatchewan for the horrors inflicted upon them by the Anglican Church.

Rev. Justin Welby apologized to residential school survivors during an event at James Smith Cree Nation on Saturday.

In a service Sunday, the Archbishop echoed his message

“That is the tragedy of the schools — of the residential schools. The mystery of no one objecting. The mystery of no one saying this is outrage,” Welby told attendees.

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Welby was also in attendance for an Indigenous gathering at the Prince Albert Exhibition (PAX) on Sunday. There, survivors had the chance to share their stories and concerns with the leader of the Anglican Church.

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Welby’s visit coincides with the 50th Session of Provincial Synod, hosted by the Diocese of Saskatchewan and convened in Prince Albert from Thursday to Sunday.

Delegates gathered from the three Prairie provinces, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

The theme of this year’s meeting was “Truth & Reconciliation: Our Journey Toward Freedom in Christ (based on John 8:36).”

Residential school survivor Tom Roberts spoke to Global News on Sunday at the site of Prince Albert residential school, which he was forced to attend.

“Beating us into it, destroying our culture, our way of life. And most of all our connections with our families,” Roberts said.

Today, he says, it feels different.

“The weight I had when I went there yesterday is pretty well all lifted now. And I feel good,” Roberts said.

The Anglican Church ran dozens of schools across Canada between 1820 and 1969, including the one Roberts was at.

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On Saturday, he and many others told the Archbishop about the physical, emotional and sexual abuse they suffered.

And the top bishop of the Church of England apologized.

“He said it.  A lot of us had tears in our eyes when he said it. I had. My wife took a big sigh of relief,” Roberts said.

Roberts accepts the Archbishop’s apology but says there is a long way to go to heal the damage.

He wants as many healing lodges built as there were churches.

For now, though, he says he can rest.

“I’m relieved. I’m happy. I can go home. I can sleep well at night.”

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience.

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