First, I was very excited that Pam Palmater’s talk about reconciliation was a requirement for this class. I had wanted to attend in person, but the timing was off. She is a very powerful speaker. The part of her talk that resonated with me most was when she spoke about the apologies offered to the survivors of the residential schools. I never realized just how poor some of the apologies were. I was always on the uneducated understanding that officials would give good meaningful, genuine apologies. When she said that an apology is an acknowledgement of wrong doing, reparation, and a promise not to do it again, it was like a light bulb went on. I had heard some of the official government apologies, I began to see why they aren’t good enough. The reparation is there in some instances, and in most instances, reparation is given grudgingly and as part of a court judgement. The acknowledgement that residential schools, for example, happened is there but there seems to be very little, if any, acknowledgement of the damage and how wrong it was. There is no promise or commitment not to do it again. As a matter of fact, in land claims and education the wrongs continue, just in a different way.
On a personal level, maybe its coincidental or not? but there has been a lot of talk recently about Pope Francis and how he will not be issuing a formal apology to the Residential school survivors. For me this is causing some discomfort in my ideas and beliefs. As a practicing Catholic, the Pope is the authority of the church and as such his decisions are to be in the best interest of all Catholics. He sets the tone for the Church’s followers in these hot issues. As an education student and a compassionate person, I find it unbelievable that it is so difficult to offer a true, heartfelt apology. I don’t know if any of the churches involved have made financial reparation, but the possibility of financial repercussions shouldn’t preclude someone from making an apology. I don’t fully understand all the legalities and semantics of why the apology won’t be issued by the Pope but I do know that part of my miskasowin process is to try to understand it and work out this internal conflict I have.
As for myself, while I grapple with the whole Catholic church apology thing, there are things I can do in regards to Truth and Reconciliation. The first one is to listen to more Pam Palmater, she makes things very easy to understand, in common terms. The second is to continue to be open to and ask critical questions, when my beliefs and ideals are in conflict with Truth and Reconciliation principles. I feel have come a long way since starting my education journey, about my very racist ideas of Indigenous people, most just uneducated nonsense. However, it is still a process.Just because my knowledge has changed, improved and allowed me to change my surface thinking in big ways, there is still a lot of work for me to do to over come all my deep held thoughts and attitudes that are 49 years in the making, the deep ideas and rebuttals aren’t going to change in 2 years. It is especially hard when many of same aged friends hold those old views, it’s a real challenge for me to have those discussions yet, because I feel so unprepared yet.