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Panel discussion in Abbotsford examines Pope’s apology for residential schools

Online session on May 19 hosted by Archway and human dignity coalition
Pixie Wells of the Fraser Valley Metis Association talks to journalists after meeting Pope Francis in Rome on March 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Archway Community Services Diversity Education and the Fraser Valley Human Dignity Coalition are hosting an online panel discussion on Thursday, May 19 about Pope Francis’s recent public apology related to residential schools.

The session, called Uncovering Perspectives on the Pope’s Apology, runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It examines the role that apology plays in healing and the next steps of reconciliation.

There will be four speakers: Bea Silver, Pixie Wells, Elya White and Rev. Tim Bowman.

They will share their perspectives and draw on their personal experiences to spark a conversation about the Pope’s apology.

Silver is an educator, residential school survivor and former chief of the Sumas First Nation.

Wells is interim president of the Fraser Valley Metis Association and was among the Metis delegates who met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in March.

RELATED: Pope Francis apologizes to Indigenous delegates for Canada’s residential schools

White is a researcher with Heritage Abbotsford Society who serves on the Haida Gwaii Repatriation Committee and is the daughter of a residential school survivor.

Bowman is based at Saint Andrew’s United Church in Mission and is currently pursuing a master of theology degree in process-relational theology, informed by Indigenous theologies among others.

To register for the free panel discussion, search “Uncovering Perspectives on the Pope’s Apology” at

Pope Francis apologized on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church to Indigenous representatives to the Vatican on March 31, 25 years after the closure of the last residential school in Canada.

As estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools, and more than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.

Indigenous delegates had told the Pope that they expected an apology to be delivered on Canadian soil. They later said they believe a more fulsome apology will come during his visit to Canada this summer.

Pope Francis is scheduled to stop in Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut during this trip from July 24 to 29.

RELATED: Pope Francis to visit Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit in July to meet Indigenous people

Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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