Archbishop J. Michael Miller has formally apologized for the role of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver in the residential school system. (Archbishop J. Michael Miller/Facebook)

Archbishop J. Michael Miller has formally apologized for the role of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver in the residential school system. (Archbishop J. Michael Miller/Facebook)

B.C. Catholic archbishop apologizes for ‘unquestionably wrong’ residential schools

Kamloops school where 215 children were found fell within historical border of Archdiocese of Vancouver

The head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver has offered a formal apology for the church’s role in the residential school system.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller’s statement comes after the discovery of 215 children buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The discovery was made public by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation last Thursday.

“In light of the heartbreaking disclosure of the remains of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, I am writing to express my deep apology and profound condolences to the families and communities that have been devastated by this horrific news,” Miller stated. “Each time new evidence of a tragedy is revealed, or another victim comes forward, countless wounds are reopened, and I know that you experience renewed suffering.”

The Kamloops residential school was operated by a Catholic order from its inception in 1890 until 1969, when the federal government took over the facility and ran it as a day school until its closure in 1976. It was one of five residential schools within the historical boundaries of the Vancouver archdiocese until 1945, when it was taken over by the Kamloops archdiocese.

Miller said his apology also comes with an offer of aid and transparency for the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, and other Indigenous Peoples affected by the church-run residential schools.

“We will be fully transparent with our archives and records regarding all residential schools, and strongly urge all other Catholic and government organizations to do the same,” he said, noting that those records were provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in time for its final report in 2015.

Miller also offered mental health support and counselling for those whose loved ones may be among the people buried at the site of the Kamloops school, as well as providing “technical and professional support” to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and all other First Nations with to “honour, retrieve and remember their deceased children.”

“We commit to supporting the same process and resources to all Nations in whose territories Catholic-run residential schools were forcibly located, and which fall within the historical boundaries of the Archdiocese of Vancouver,” he added.

“We will renew our efforts to listen to Indigenous Peoples to hear from you how we can best walk with you along the path of justice.”

The Vatican has never apologized or taken responsibility for running many of Canada’s residential schools. The residential school system began in the 1800s and the last facility did not close until 1996; the Catholic Church was responsible for running dozens of schools, more than any order religious group.

At least 150,000 Indigenous children were forced into residential schools and while the true death toll remains unknown, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission said that at least 3,200 died as a result of physical and sexual abuse, disease, malnutrition and neglect.

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is offering toll-free 24-hour telephone support for survivors and their families at 1 (866) 925-4419. The KUU-US Crisis Line Society’s 24-hour line is available at 1-800-588-8717.

READ MORE: Time to account for all child deaths at Canada’s residential schools: Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Indigenousresidential schools

Just Posted

South Slocan’s Ti Loran is among the recipients of this year’s Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
Neil Muth Memorial Scholarships awarded to 4 students

Students in Creston, South Slocan and Revelstoke are sharing the honour

Dawn Low worked for the City of Revelstoke for 22 years. She became CAO for our community in 2019 and held the position until May, 2021.
Revelstoke’s Dawn Low hired as CAO for Armstrong

Dawn Low was the CAO in Revelstoke until end of May

The Five-Cairn Trail is roughly 25 km long and traverses between two icefields. A friend and I hiked it in 2009. (Liam Harrap)
Liam’s Lowdown: That time I got rescued in Iceland

Sometimes we need to call for help and thank goodness it comes

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club in Oliver will golf from sunrise to sunset to raise funds for ALS on June 29. (Submitted)
Golfing from sunrise to sunset in Oliver for ALS

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club have taken up the challenge June 29

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ restart plan

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Jann Arden will embark on Canada-wide tour Spring 2022 with a stop in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on June 13. (Contributed)
Jann Arden schedules Okanagan stop on 2022 Canada-wide tour

The Jann Arden Live! tour has been rescheduled for 2022

A fire deliberately set in a washroom facility in Vernon’s transit terminal could cost the city around $25,000 to repair. (City of Vernon)
Burned-out bathroom could cost Vernon $25K

Despite changes made by city, vandalism on the rise at transit loop loos

Most Read