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

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

(Black Press file photo)
EDITORIAL: Curtailing attempts at scams

The true total of losses from all scams and frauds could be much higher than the figures on file

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

(Drive BC photo)
Vehicle incident closes Highway 3 east of Osoyoos

Drive BC says to avoid the area until the road is clear

Osoyoos chef Murray McDonald was ecstatic upon realizing he scored the $1 million guaranteed prize in the June 2, 2021 Lotto 6/49 draw. (Contributed)
Osoyoos chef ecstatic after bagging $1 million Lotto 6/49 win

Chef Murray McDonald was at home and ready to doze off to sleep when he got a text from his wife

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Photograph By MICHAEL POTESTIO.KTW
Former Kamloops security gaurd wants job back after kicking incident caught on video

Rick Eldridge quit when a video surfaced of him kicking a man outside a facility for homeless

People participated in a walk to honour the 215 children found at a former Kamloops residential school, as well as residential school survivors. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
Kelowna marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day with walk to remember Kamloops 215

“Let’s speak the truth and deal with the truth, and heal.”

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

A home on Cameo Drive sustained major damage due to an early morning fire Monday, June 21. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Fire sparked during Vernon home renovation

Heavy black smoke from Cameo Drive home, no one inside

The new Civic Memorial Park will incorporate pieces of the 80-year-old arena it replaces. (Artists rendering)
Pieces of Civic Arena reclaimed for new Vernon park

City centre space to incorporate wood from the historic arena

Most Read