Kamloops residents and First Nations people gather to listen to drummers and singers at a memorial in front of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on May 31. CNS photo/Dennis Owen, Reuters

Archbishop Miller offers ‘deep apology’ in wake of discovery of bodies at Kamloops residential school

By 
  • June 2, 2021

The Archbishop of Vancouver is offering “my deep apology” to those affected by the discovery of the bodies of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C.

The Archbishop of Vancouver is offering “my deep apology” to those affected by the discovery of the bodies of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in B.C.

In a letter addressed to First Nations governments and Indigenous communities on June 2, Archbishop J. Michael Miller admitted the Catholic Church was “unquestionably wrong in implementing a government colonialist policy which resulted in devastation for children, families and communities.”

The Church ran the school from 1890 until 1969, when administration was taken over by the federal government. It closed in 1978.

“I am writing to express my deep apology and profound condolences to the families and communities that have been devastated by this horrific news.  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,” wrote Miller.

He also recounted the apology he game in 2013 to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one which he said he remains “committed and accountable”:  “I wish to apologize sincerely and profoundly to the survivors and their families, as well as to all those subsequently affected, for the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of those Catholics who perpetrated mistreatment of any kind in these residential schools.”

The archbishop outlined five “first steps” in support of the impacted communities: full transparency to all records regarding the school; counselling for families; support in retrieving and honouring the children; resources and support for all Nations within the archdiocese in which Catholic-run residential schools were located; and renewing efforts to listen to Indigenous peoples and “walk with you along along the path of justice.”

“We recognize that there is so much work remains to be done, yet we hope that, if we persevere in these commitments with humility, we can restore the trust among us that will bring healing,” Miller wrote.

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