The Catholic community in Canada has a decentralized structure. Each Diocesan Bishop is autonomous in his diocese and, although relating to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, is not responsible to it.
Approximately 16 out of 70 Catholic dioceses in Canada were associated with the former Indian Residential Schools, in addition to about three dozen religious communities. Each diocese and religious community is legally responsible for its own actions. The Catholic Church as a whole was not associated with the Residential Schools, nor was the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
These are the reasons why an apology on Residential Schools has not been made by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops or in the name of the Catholic Church in Canada.
However, in a brief submitted to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in November 1993, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops did acknowledge that "various types of abuse experienced at some residential schools have moved us to a profound examination of conscience as a Church."
Already in 1991, Canadian Catholic Bishops and leaders of men and women religious communities had issued a statement that "We are sorry and deeply regret the pain, suffering and alienation that so many experienced" at the Residential Schools.
There have been, and continue to be, numerous initiatives by Catholic agencies and institutions in Canada to help heal the sufferings of the Aboriginal Peoples. The process of healing and reconciliation is ongoing.
Here are some of the apologies that have been made over the years by Catholic organizations in Canada.
- Statement by the National Meeting on Indian Residential Schools
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - March 13-15, 1991
- Extract of Let Justice flow like a Mighty River, Brief by the CCCB to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1995
- The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate - An Apology to the First Nations of Canada by the Oblate Conference of Canada
24 July 1991