The Archbishop of Canterbury has apologized for the Church of England’s involvement in the “structural sins of racism and discrimination” committed against Canada’s indigenous peoples over the decades.
Speaking during his four-day visit to the country over the weekend (News, April 22), Archbishop Welby, after listening to the testimony of boarding school survivors, also apologized for both the complicity of the Church and for being directly responsible for “unchecked, uncontrolled, without criticism without objection. . . cruelty they dispensed indiscriminately to the most innocent and the youngest.”
Archbishop Welby’s apology follows those of the Anglican Church of Canada issued by Archbishop Michael Pierce and Archbishop Fred Hiltz in 1993 and 2010, respectively. Between 1820 and 1969, the Church of Canada operated about 30 boarding schools and hostels for First Nations children. Since the late 1980s, survivors have spoken of how schools denigrated their culture with physical and sexual abuse.
Archbishop Welby said at a First Nations gathering in Prince Albert on Sunday: “I have heard stories of grief and humiliation. . . and structural sin is not just individual sin, which was terrible enough. Structural in society and, even worse, in the Church. Sins of racism and discrimination. The greatest evil we can face.”
He continued: “I want to once again sincerely and deeply, with humiliation and humility, apologize for the severed relationship between the Anglican Church and the First Nations, Inuit and Métis of Canada. We have failed in our historic commitment to be your protectors, allies and relatives. Instead of standing with you, we abandoned you.