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

Workers had a busy time today repairing a broken main water line. (District of Houston photo)
Water service being restored

Main line on 13th had broken

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week following the news that the remains of as many as 215 children were found buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. The flags were raised back up yesterday. (Houston Today photo)
Flags lowered in memory

Flags at the District of Houston administrative building were lowered last week… Continue reading

Bruce Tang- Unsplash photo
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

“Older adults in our communities continue to find themselves in vulnerable situations… Continue reading

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

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

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

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Most Read