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Pope Francis has apologized to Canada’s Indigenous people for the Catholic Church’s role in the Indian residential school system. And, has asked for forgiveness. As Dan Karpenchuk reports, the apology comes after meetings this week at the Vatican between the Pope and First Nations, Metis, and Inuit delegates.
This apology is what many of Canada’s Indigenous people have spent lifetimes waiting for and hoping for. The Assembly of First Nations lead delegate, chief Gerald Antoine called it a historic day.
“Today is a day that we’ve been waiting for and certainly one that will be uplifted in our history. His holiness Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church has issued a long overdue apology for the Roman Catholic role in church run residential schools. It’s a historical first step, but only a first step. The next step is for the holy father to apologize to our families at their homes.”
During the final meetings with delegates from First Nations, Inuit and Metis, speaking in Italian the pope asked for God’s forgiveness for what he called the deplorable conduct of members of the Catholic Church, for the wrongs done in residential schools. I want to say, he continued, with all my heart I am very sorry. About 190 people, including delegates and survivors of the residential schools had gathered during that final address. The pope has also promised to travel to Canada in the days around the feast of St. Anna. That falls on July 26, but no firm date for the visit has been set. From the late 1800’s to the late 1900’s, about 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend the government funded, church run, residential schools across Canada. Thousands were abused, more than 4,000 died. The last residential school closed in 1996.
The FBI and Blackfeet Law Enforcement executed a search warrant at the residence of the Blackfeet Nation’s chairman early Thursday. Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton reports, at least four arrests were made for the alleged sale of synthetic opioids.
FBI spokesperson Sandra Barker said a search warrant was executed at Tribal Business Council Chairman Timothy Davis’ home, where eight individuals were arrested. Barker said Davis was not among those taken into custody. She said the search is part of an ongoing investigation and declined to share more details about the case. Blackfeet Law Enforcement, which announced the search warrant in a press release, did not respond to a request for comment by deadline on Thursday.
Reached on his cell phone, Chairman Davis told Montana Public Radio he was not at home when law enforcement officers searched his residence. He said he did not know anything about the case and declined to comment further. Tribal Council Member Mark Pollock confirmed that Davis was traveling on behalf of the tribe at the time the warrant was executed. Blackfeet Prosecutor Josh Lamson says at least four tribal arrest warrants were served for the alleged sale of a small amount of fentanyl. Those individuals are likely to be arraigned Friday. Lamson says it isn’t yet clear what the remaining four people are charged with. The names of those arrested have not been released.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed legislation Thursday investing $120 million for affordable housing, low-income home repairs and other housing needs for Cherokee citizens in Oklahoma. The tribe previously invested $30 million to replace and repair homes of elders, those with disabilities, and energy conservation projects for community buildings. The new investment comes from the tribe’s general revenue fund and dollars from the federal American Rescue Plan.
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