OTTAWA — MPs have voted overwhelmingly to extend to Pope Francis a formal invitation to apologize in person to Indigenous Peoples for decades of abuse meted out in residential schools across Canada.
New Democrat MPs Charlie Angus and residential school survivor Romeo Saganash introduced the motion, which passed today by a margin of 269-10.
Cheers erupted for both MPs as they voted; Angus held aloft a feather as his vote was acknowledged.
Among the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was to ask for an apology, to be delivered in Canada by the pontiff, for the church’s role in the residential school abuse of First Nations, Inuit and Metis children.
But in March, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said that while the Pope acknowledged the commission’s findings and expressed regret for past wrongs, he “felt he could not personally respond.”
The motion also calls on the Catholic Church to pay money owed to residential school survivors and to turn over relevant documentation regarding the government-sponsored schools.
The vote comes two weeks after Conservative MP Garnett Genuis opposed a bid for unanimous support for the motion, triggering a Commons debate last week that garnered support from all parties.
The Canadian Press