Native leader sees Papal apology as foundation for Canadian reconciliation process



    NIPISSING FN, ON, April 29 /CNW/ - Grand Council Chief John Beaucage says
the "expression of sorrow" issued by Pope Benedict XVI about the Catholic
Church's role in operating Indian Residential Schools should seen as a
foundation on which a reconciliation process can be built.
    "We want to see the Bishops, dioceses and Roman Catholic communities and
churches in Canada embrace their responsibility and move towards
reconciliation with First Nations," said Beaucage, who represents 42
Anishinabek Nation communities in Ontario. "I'd like to see the impacts of the
Papal apology be recognized and addressed, not only at the Vatican, but within
Canada."
    Beaucage said that, if elected National Chief at the Assembly of First
Nations assembly in Calgary this July he intends to meet with the Canadian
Conference of Catholic Bishops to determine a course of action to build on
Wednesday's apology issued by the Vatican following a private audience with an
AFN delegation.
    The Anishinabek Nation leader congratulated National Chief Phil Fontaine
for his advocacy on behalf of residential school survivors. Fontaine said
Benedict's statement "closes the book" on the issue of apologies for
residential school survivors.
    Apologies for their roles in operating the network of 130 residential
schools in Canada have previously been offered by the Anglican, Presbyterian
and United churches, and last June Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an
apology on behalf of the government of Canada.
    Beaucage said Fontaine, himself a survivor of residential school abuse,
has left a historic legacy in making Canadians aware of the horrific impact
residential schools have had on First Nations communities.
    "Now it's important that we build on his efforts by ensuring they are
used as building blocks for the work of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission," Beaucage added.

    The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its
political advocate and secretariat in 1949. The Union of Ontario Indians is
the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to
the Confederacy of Three Fires that have existed long before European contact.





For further information:

For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of
Ontario Indians, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (ext. 2290), Cell: (705) 494-0735,
E-mail: becmar@anishinabek.ca


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