Federal funding, supports offered for residential school survivors attending papal visit

Click to play video: 'Supports available for residential school survivors traveling to papal visits'
Supports available for residential school survivors traveling to papal visits
With just over a week until the pope lands in Canada to meet residential school survivors, the federal government has announced funding for those attending. Kelly Skjerven has more details about available supports and one survivor who says he won't be attending. – Jul 15, 2022

With a little over a week until the Pope lands in Canada to meet with residential school survivors, the Canadian government has announced funding for survivors wishing to attend.

Pope Francis lands in Alberta on July 24 and will be meeting with survivors until July 29.

Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada are providing $30.2 million for First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities and organizations.

This includes organizations that serve Indigenous women and LGBTQ2 people and youth.

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The money will go towards community-led activities that are related to the papal visit, including healing activities, events, ceremonies and travel for survivors.

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The federal government said communities and organizations will be contacted directly.

Mental health workers and cultural support providers will also be at specific papal events.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) recently spoke out over what they call a lack of consultation and coordination.

“(It) takes planning for a trip like this. Some may need assistance, etc. I know FSIN was scrambling for hotel rooms in Edmonton and the surrounding areas,” FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear told Global News.

Bear noted it’s also an expensive time to travel so she’s pleased the federal government has committed to helping out financially.

However, she added, consultation is still an issue and said the trip will be retraumatizing for survivors.

“For many, it’ll be a first step to the journey of healing. We could do better with consultation all the way around. Canada can do better,” Bear added.

Bear re-iterated she had hoped the Pope would have scheduled a trip to Saskatchewan with around 100,000 survivors within the region.

Bear suggests those wishing to attend the trip should contact their tribal council or nation.

Click to play video: 'Residential School Survivors react to Pope Visit'
Residential School Survivors react to Pope Visit

Locally, other organizations are stepping in to help.

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has committed to sponsoring survivors and elders wishing to attend papal visit events in Edmonton on July 25 and 26.

The bus trip is organized through the Our Lady Guadalupe Parish in Saskatoon — an Indigenous, First Nations Metis Parish in the diocese.

A spokesperson with the Saskatoon diocese said the sponsorship will include covering expenses on the trip, including accommodation and transportation.

The number of people attending, exact budget and other itinerary details are still being planned with those interested in attending.

Survivors and elders looking for more information on registering for the bus are asked to contact Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish as soon as possible at 306-653-4945.

A local event in conjunction with the papal visit at St. Mary School in Saskatoon will also be free to attend.

The Diocese of Prince Albert is organizing a motor coach to bring survivors from across the diocese to an event at Maskwacis First Nation on July 25.

“We anticipate that the Pope will issue an apology to (residential school) survivors on Treaty Six Land,” Most Reverend Stephen Hero, Bishop of Prince Albert said.

Read more: Regina archdiocese issues last call to residential school survivors for Pope visit

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The Archdiocese of Regina has extended registration for its trip to Edmonton until July 17.

Bus, hotel and food will all be covered. So far around 100 people have registered.

A spokesperson said the wider community can also help sponsor the bus trip.

More information is available on the Archdiocese of Regina website.

One survivor, however, says he won’t be attending any of the papal visits.

Barry Kennedy attended Marieval residential school and the Qu’Appelle Residential School.

To Kennedy, an apology from the pope won’t fix anything.

“Canada and the Indigenous community are still going to suffer from the diseases that were created from attending the school, for surviving the abuses of the school and the intergenerational trauma that has been created over the last hundred years that we still see today,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy says he doesn’t intend to watch any livestreams of the event, either, and plans to stay out of it completely.

“Life goes on, and the day after he leaves Canada, life’s still going to go on. We’re going to have some of the same problems — some of us survivors and I have,” Kennedy said.


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