AP report 'calls for a reckoning' of US churches that ran residential schools

A report by the AP "calls for a reckoning" for churches that ran residential schools for Native American and Native Alaskan Children.

Elie Cantin-Nantel Ottawa ON

A report by the AP "calls for a reckoning" for churches that ran residential schools for Native American and Native Alaskan Children. It cites the discovery of unmarked graves in Canada as a factor for prompted calls for action in the United States.

According to the report, over 150 residential schools were run by US Catholic and Protestant churches during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Native American and Alaskan Native children were taken from their homes to attend these schools, where they were taught European customs and values as well as the Bible.

The majority of the schools, 84, were run by the Catholic Church, while 21 were run by Presbyterians, 15 by Quakers, and 12 by Methodists.

While most Canadians are aware of the residential schools, which are now seen as a dark time in the country's history, knowledge about American schools isn't widely known.

Samuel Torres,  director of research and programs for the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition adds, "without that truth, then there's really very limited possibilities of healing."

While the calls for "a reckoning" in the report seem to mean accountability through acknowledgement, apologies, and reconciliation, there is concern that such language could lead to hate crimes against Christian communities.

In Canada, around 50 Christian communities have been the victim of arson or vandalism as a result of unmarked graves being discovered on the grounds of former residential schools.

While the crimes started with Catholic churches located on indigenous reserves, they have since begun to affect various denominations, including those made up of Christian refugees who previously faced persecution in other countries for being Christian. These churches also never had anything to do with the residential school system.

While many indigenous communities, groups, and leaders have denounced the hate crimes targeted at Christian church, many of Canada's politicians have opted to mostly remain silent on the matter, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has vaguely addressed the issue.

Trudeau has, however, been hosting summits for anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, while not taking national action to stop the rise in anti-Christian hate. His former advisor also claimed that the church burnings were understandable.

It remains to be seen how impactful the AP Report will be in the United States, and if it will lead to the same response as seen in Canada, with the blame being fully aimed at churches, that are then burned down.

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