June 13th, 2024

Papal apology will take time to assess for Indigenous survivors

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on April 9, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The apology of Pope Francis to the Indigenous people of Canada will take some time to be fully received as it is a process that cannot be rushed, said an official with the Blood Tribe earlier this week.
“When an apology is given the word, the energy, the spirit of the words and the intention behind an apology that’s transferred onto the victims, it’s transferred onto those you’re apologizing to so that energy is felt and the spirit has to come to understand that,” said Terri-Lynn Fox, director of wellness programs with the Blood Tribe department of health.
She added that people need to respect survivors and generations thereafter to come to terms individually and as a collective, to determine what the words truly mean and how they are going to process that.
“Once we come to that reconciliation to overcome, to survive, to reach a good point and once you say ‘I accept your apology’ we let the wrongdoing be what it is and we’re ready to move forward,” said Fox.
She believes the apology, which addressed the abuses Indigenous peoples experienced in residential schools, has awaken a global consciousness because it was broadcast and shared on social media, where people across the globe have instant access to it.
“Millions and billions could have possibly heard the apology, so now we have to awaken the system, we move forward, moving forward through ceremony wanting to learn, and know and understand as best as non-Indigenous people can,” said Fox.
She said many residential school survivors did not have the chance to hear the apology because they have passed away, and as far as those who are still alive some may have heard it and have accepted the apology, while some may have not accepted it yet.
Fox, who is an Indian Day School survivor and daughter of two residential school survivors, heard the apology on Friday while in her office and said she was moved by it.
“I viewed it Friday through social media and in my office and I was so touched not only by the words of Pope Francis, but also, wow, wasn’t it magnificent to see the dancing? The amazing coordination and in sync with the drumbeat, that’s part of our life force,” said Fox.
She said that for Pope Francis to see it first-hand and to be genuinely there, mindfully there, and intentionally there, understanding this is who they are, was magnificent.
“That was touching and if you weren’t touched, I’m not sure what to say about that but many probably were touched, which is a good thing. We’re ready to reconcile or ready to work with the oppressors, and the abusers, and those who were part of assimilation tactics and genocidal mechanisms to eradicate First Nations people on Turtle Island. We must move forward in ceremony,” said Fox.
She said it is really critical that time is taken to absorb the apology as it is their cultural way of doing things. She said they utilize ceremony, they take time and they respect those involved as they move forward.
Fox said that is what she has come to learn and understand throughout her previous research with Blackfoot members.
“When we sit in ceremony it is what it is, there’s no time. It’s not from 1:00 to 2:00, the ceremony is going to start when all the individuals and all the elements are ready, and the ceremony will end when it is finished and complete in a good way. We don’t know how long that is, but we must respect the process,” said Fox.
She said therefore it will take time to be able to reach the point where we can have some type qualitative data to gather about how it impacted each survivor and their families.

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