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Jun. 23, 2021 | Wednesday
Editorials and Opinions
Editorial: Church shuns its responsibility

Richard Harley
Kevin MacLean
The Lake Report

The whole country has been taken aback by the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C., last week.

And rightfully so, many Canadians are demanding those institutions that perpetrated the horrific, racist, genocidal atrocity take responsibility – and be brought to justice, if possible.

Our governments have made it clear residential schools were wrong and the tragedies that transpired at them never should have happened.

And whether our leaders label what happened genocide or the seemingly more favoured term “cultural genocide,” it’s clear what occurred in these schools was an unforgivable betrayal of the trust society put in institiutions and governments.

However, let's not lose sight of the fact that, with residential schools operating until 1996, this is not "ancient history." It's on all of us. 

With the Kamloops discovery, coupled with the ongoing tragedy of, in 2021, dozens of First Nations reserves still not having clean water, perhaps we have reached the tipping point where we can finally say "enough is enough."

On Tuesday, children’s shoes were laid at the entrance to St. Michael Catholic Elementary School in Virgil, the start of a memorial to the 215 lost Indigenous children. It is symbolic, of course, but it at least acknowledges our collective guilt.

The principal of St. Michael has supported this initiative and will leave the shoes in place for one month to show the school is in solidarity with the Indigenous community.

It’s heartening to see a Catholic school commit to this while the Catholic church remains largely silent, unwilling to shoulder responsibility.

Despite global attention to the discovered remains, there has been no apology or meaningful acknowledgement of these hate crimes committed against Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Along with many others across the country, we too demand that the Catholic church speak up. Now. How can it not?

It speaks volumes that our grassroots communities recognize the problem and are pushing for change and accountability.

It is shameful that the church is repeating the mistakes of past crises by hiding and ignoring its responsibility, refusing to do what we all know is right.