Canadian Bishops issue apology for church’s role in residential schools

The monument to victims of residential schools in Fort Providence. (Photo by Mariah Caruso/ CKLB.)

The Catholic Bishops of Canada have formally apologized for the church’s role in the residential school system. 

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) published an apology on Friday, acknowledging the role the church played as well the intergenerational trauma the school’s have caused.

“Many Catholic religious communities and dioceses participated in this system, which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples,” the apology reads. “We acknowledge the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual.”

“The Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our profound remorse and apologize unequivocally.”

The statement continues to say the CCCB is pledging to undertake fundraising to support initiatives with Indigenous partners.

However, the church has made similar promises in the past.

Pope Francis has yet to apologize for the church’s role in residential schools. 

However the statement says a delegation of Indigenous survivors, Elders, and youth will meet with the Pope in Rome in December 2021.

Since May, Indigenous communities from across the country have reported unmarked graves from the residential school system.

The apology says the church will also assist Indigenous communities in locating other unmarked graves.

“We commit ourselves to continue the work of providing documentation or records that will assist in the memorialization of those buried in unmarked graves,” the statement reads.

The written apology does not use the word genocide at any point when acknowledging the impact of the residential schools.

The Canadian government apologized for it’s role in residential schools in 2008.

The apology comes just about a week before Truth and Reconciliation Day which is scheduled for Sept. 30, this is the dates first year as a statutory holiday.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at