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Petition started by Kamloops woman calling for formal apology from Pope

FILE PHOTO - Teddy bears outside of the Kelowna Courthouse.
Image Credit: Kathy Michaels
June 10, 2021 - 8:00 AM

A Kamloops woman is calling on the Pope to offer an apology following the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School site through an online petition.

Franca Cinel said she is Catholic and loves Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, but was saddened by the news about the former residential school. She moved to Canada from Italy when she was 15.

“I couldn’t sleep since this happened. I have been really, really upset…. I think he should apologize,” she said.

The discovery of the remains was announced last month by the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation, wicho said ground-penetrating radar located the remains of 215 children.

READ MORE: Identifying children's remains at B.C. residential school stalled by lack of records

Since then, there has been an outpouring of support for Indigenous communities across the country.

Hundreds of truckers arrived in Kamloops this past weekend at the former residential school site for a rally. Shoes and teddy bears have been displayed across the country and calls have been made for a national day of mourning to honour the 215 children.

With her daughter’s help, Cinel started the petition, demanding an apology from the Pope. The Pope has never formally apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system.

“A lot of us, we’re with (the Indigenous communities,)” she said, adding while the past can’t be changed, there are a lot of people who are sorry for what happened.

The archbishop of Toronto expressed "great sorrow" Sunday for the abuse that took place at Canada's residential schools, but insisted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's call for the Catholic Church to take more responsibility was “unfair.”

Trudeau said he has called on the Catholic Church and Pope Francis for a formal apology in 2017. He also urged other Catholics to demand an apology and action from the church last week. 

READ MORE: Trudeau calls on Catholic Church to take responsibility for residential schools

Pope Francis held a moment of silent prayer Sunday honouring Canadian Indigenous children who died at residential schools and the families who mourn them but did not offer an apology for the Church's participation in the schools.

The petition has gathered 43 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, June 8.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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