The institutional members of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Canada are pleased that Pope Francis has apologized to the Indigenous Peoples on this Land for the Catholic Church’s role in the operation of residential schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #58 requested that the pope apologize to the “Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools” in Canada.
This apology represents an important and necessary step, but there are many steps that need to be taken by the Catholic Church in the process of reconciliation. These further steps include ensuring all documents are released by religious orders, dioceses, and archdioceses regarding Catholic-operated residential schools to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation; delivering upon the $30 million pledge to Indigenous communities to support survivors; and drawing on Indigenous spiritual wisdom and authentic Catholic Social Teaching to bind the wounds of our tragic history and heal the harm inflicted on our common home.
In unison with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), we too as the leaders of Canada’s Catholic universities and colleges are also called to work toward reconciliation and implement the Calls to Action. We recognize that we must continue to work to enrich our curriculums with Indigenous knowledge, listen to the guidance offered by Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Indigenous colleagues; and provide added supports and safe spaces for Indigenous students that respect and honour their heritage, including Indigenous spirituality.
Link to Pope Francis’s Remarks and Apology:
The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in Canada (ACCUC) is an organization of Roman Catholic institutions of higher education located across Canada. The ACCUC acts as the official voice for Catholic higher learning in Canada, as it seeks to spread “the spirit of learning” throughout the country.
John Cappucci, Ph.D.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Assumption University, Windsor
Carl Still, Ph.D.
President, St. Thomas More College, Saskatoon
Peter Meehan, Ed.D.
Immediate Past Chair, ACCUC
President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Jerome’s University, Waterloo
Christopher Adams, Ph.D.
Rector, St. Paul’s College, Winnipeg
Chantal Beauvais, Ph.D.
Rectrice, Université Saint Paul/Saint Paul University, Ottawa
Shawn Flynn, Ph.D.
President, St. Joseph’s College, Edmonton
Lauretta Frederking, Ph.D.
President, Brescia University College, London
Rob Harasymchuk, M.B.A.
President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Peter’s College, Muenster
Sami Helewa, S.J., Ph.D.
President, Campion College, Regina
Michael Higgins, Ph.D.
Principal, St. Mark’s College, Vancouver
President, Corpus Christi College, Vancouver
David Malloy, PhD
President, King’s University College, London
Gordon Rixon, S.J., Ph.D.
President-Designate, Regis College, Toronto
Dawn Russell, Q.C.
President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Thomas University, Fredericton
David Sylvester, Ph.D.
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto
Gerry Turcotte, Ph.D.
Principal-Elect, St. Mark’s College, Vancouver
President-Elect, Corpus Christi College, Vancouver
Sinda Vanderpool, Ph.D.
President and Vice-Chancellor, St. Mary’s University, Calgary
Jason West, Ph.D.
President, Newman Theological College, Edmonton