Residential school records may lie deep in Vatican archives
The Vatican archives are vast, containing 85 kilometers of shelves, an underground vault and millions of pages of documents spanning 12 centuries. Canadian residential school researchers say there’s a high likelihood they contain records and references to the federally funded, church-run system that tore Indigenous children from their families – and they want that these files be published.
It’s also one of the key messages some indigenous delegates want to get across when they meet Pope Francis, a visit now postponed until next year due to concerns over the Omicron variant. Some say they want to see more action from the Catholic Church, beyond apologies.
MÃ©tis National Council president Cassidy Caron, who is one of the delegates heading to Rome, said she hopes the church will release all documents “in its possession regarding the boarding and boarding system. Day School in Canada, so that we can begin to mend and renew our relationship and forge a new future for ourselves based on truth, transparency and understanding.
Delegation postpones visit to Vatican over concerns over Omicron variant
Federal Government to Release Thousands of Residential School Files
Last week, the federal government said it would turn over thousands of documents – a mix of government and religious records – to the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) in the coming weeks.
The CNTR student register lists 4,127 children who never returned home after residential schools. He says there are potentially thousands more, but he cannot confirm and honor the missing children as many cases have not been handed over.
Examples of religious documents that the NCTR told The Globe and Mail it still hopes to receive include student records, student and staff identification forms, staff lists and journals, school plans, vendor lists, maps, invoices and ledgers.
It is not known how many documents are still missing, nor what documents, if any, were sent to the Vatican. The Globe sent a list of questions to the Holy See’s press office on December 2, asking what the Vatican holds regarding the residential schools and whether it would share any relevant documents, but received no response.
Ry Moran, Associate Reconciliation Librarian at the University of Victoria and founding director of the NCTR, said there is a “very, very high probability” that the Vatican has records, “because the residential schools were not not an aberration. It wasn’t a mistake. These have been carefully considered and intentional efforts either to Christianize or to commission Indigenous peoples, or in the context of the Canadian state, to take control of Indigenous lands. It is therefore quite reasonable to assume that there are documents that will provide additional evidence on the intentions and indeed the overall strategy of colonization.
At first, as Catholic entities were established across the country, communications with Rome were likely “frequent and continuous,” said Moran, who is MÃ©tis.
Of the records held by the Vatican, âI don’t think they’ve been exhaustively examined in any way to prove residential school wrongdoing or to know who, what, when.
The NCTR, which is not part of the indigenous delegation that will visit Rome next year, said in an emailed statement to the Globe that it had no direct knowledge of documents held at the Vatican. If he holds records, “we want them sent back to Canada,” the center said.
Stephanie Scott, Executive Director of the NCTR, said her message to the Vatican is that âreconciliation begins with acknowledging the past. If the church is to forge a path to reconciliation together, the path must begin with an apology and continued cooperation to expedite residential school cases at the NCTR.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated that it has committed publicly, and in conversations with Indigenous leaders, to “provide relevant documents or records that will aid in the commemoration of those buried in anonymous graves, d ” in a manner that respects the privacy of residential school survivors. and their families â, adding that this work isâ in progress â. The CCCB said it was not aware of any boarding school records in the Vatican archives, which are open to certain qualified scholars and clergy.
The Catholic Church, which ran about 60 percent of residential schools in Canada, has been criticized for not turning over all files to the NCTR and its predecessor, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Some entities – like the Jesuits – were forthcoming, and others – like the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a religious order that ran 48 boarding schools – recently pledged to make the registers more accessible, following the announcement this year of hundreds of anonymous graves. found near residential school sites.
Ken Thorson, an Oblate leader in Canada, said they found no record of residential school records sent to the Vatican. Yet, he added in an email, it would not be unusual for certain historical documents, such as letters written by the first Oblate missionaries to their leaders in Rome, could be kept in the Archives of the General House of Oblates in Rome. Canada’s Oblate leaders “are working with the Oblate administration in Rome to find an appropriate third-party process to clarify whether such documentation resides there and what information it may contain.” If there are any documents, he said, they would be willing to share them.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, professor of law at the University of British Columbia and director of the Center for History and Dialogue on Indian Residential Schools, is certain that the Vatican has many documents on residential schools because the law Church canon itself dictated that detailed records such as daily accounts, deaths, finances, and personnel be kept with duplicates or originals returned to Rome.
She said the Pope could issue a directive calling on Catholic entities and the Vatican to share all residential school records. In Canada, she said, the federal government should enact legislation requiring entities to share crucial historical documents. Canada must âhave mandatory Indigenous records requiring the filing and maintenance of a system to ensure records are complete and accessible, especially with respect to residential schools. The 72 [Catholic] entities should be ordered to produce these documents because they are necessary and in the public interest to shed light on missing children, unmarked graves and related matters.
Norman Yakeleya, a Dene politician and survivor of the residential schools in Yellowknife, has said he wants to see concrete action. âWe want a commitment that they will work with indigenous peoples on archival documents, historical documentation and share documents that may be in Canada or in the Vatican,â he said. âWe are looking for the truth. “
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