The Regina archdiocese put a call out weeks ago for residential school survivors to join the upcoming Papal visit in Edmonton July 24-26. A gathering team was established to compile a list of residential school survivors in Treaty 4, but response has been less that what was expected.
The Regina archbishop said registration, travel, hotel stay and meals will all be taken care of. Each residential school survivor will be allowed to bring a support person as well, but as their deadline for attendees to sign up arrives Friday, July 8, they are learning there is little interest from the community.
“We’ve provisionally got three busses ready to go, which would be up to 150 people,” Archbishop Don Bolen said. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to have that many survivors.”
Bolen said there are many factors as to why there is a decline in the numbers of attendees, including some not knowing the option is available. Others, he says, have expressed a disinterest in attending.
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“I understand that there’s some tension, differences of opinions, within First Nations communities around the apology and and it makes sense that there would be,” said Bolen. “So we’re just trying to put out the offer for those who would like to attend or be connected to the event.”
Other dioceses in Saskatchewan and Indigenous organizations have not officially announced any of their arrangements yet but Archbishop Bolen confirms many are expected to make their announcements.
In a previous story, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations confirmed there will be federal funding for residential school survivors to attend the Pope visit but that announcement has yet to be made.
Bolen encourages those within the Regina archdiocese who wish to attend the Pope visit to contact the Regina diocese or visit the Papal visit website on obtaining free tickets to attend.
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.