Disappointment and concern are emerging as First Nations survivors learn that they will have access to only 400 reserved spaces at the Basilica of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré during the papal visit on July 28. The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) is calling on the Church to ensure that the reconciliation and healing of residential school survivors remain at the heart of Pope Francis' visit.
"We only have a few days to provide 400 names,” says Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL. “How can we possibly make such a choice when we estimate that there are a few thousand First Nations survivors of residential schools? A growing disappointment among survivors is already being felt and compels us to reiterate that it is essential to ensure proximity with the Pope to survivors for whom this represents an essential step in their journey towards healing. This is the very reason for the Pope's visit. It should not be a missed opportunity."
The AFNQL reiterates its collaboration to advance reconciliation and calls on the Catholic Church to provide residential school survivors with the space they so rightfully deserve.
"The Church's apologies are long overdue and must be permitted to take place in a peaceful and compassionate setting. These more than legitimate expectations cannot be disregarded," concludes Chief Picard.