When is an apology not an apology? When it is issued by the Catholic Church.

I was one of 29 Survivors that took part in a validation and redress process that dealt with claims for abuse suffered by us at Grollier Hall from 1959 to 1979. A major part of our settlement was that there would be a written apology issued to each of us by the then Catholic Bishop of the Mackenzie Diocese, Denis Croteau. The “apology” is dated June 21, 2002. It is from “Bishop Denis Croteau, o.m.i.” However, he did not sign the apology, which I did not realize at the time that I received it. It was an emotional time for me and I wasn’t looking for anything to ruin the moment. It was signed by a scribbled name that I cannot make out and is marked “per” whoever scribbled the signature. Not important enough for Croteau to do the decent thing and sign 29 letters? His final act of petulance, during the process, towards us.

Now, we can fast forward to more recent times. The Catholic Bishops of Canada issued what they call an apology on September 24, 2021. Again, it is one of those non-apologies. Many people are likely familiar with the expression about putting lipstick on a pig. It doesn’t matter how much lipstick you put on that pig; it is still a pig. The lipstick, in our case, is the non-apologies. The bishops say that they “apologize unequivocally” but it is difficult, at best, to understand what it is that they are apologizing for. That makes it a non-apology.

This comes as the ramp up, by the so-called leaders of the Indigenous People in Canada, begins, for the big trip to the Vatican to kneel in front of the Pope and be fed more pap. This trip is supposed to take place this December. I want to be careful here as I am Métis and I do not want to be seen as if I might be interfering with what the First Nations and Inuit peoples might be doing. However, the Métis are not represented by any group that has a mandate to speak on behalf of Métis Survivors and their families. I am a Métis Survivor and no one, no one, has asked me or other Métis Survivors, that I know of, what it is that we want, if anything, from the Pope. The big fix is being put together.

To better understand what is going on we need to take a look at “Call to Action number 58” which was issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. This call to Action asks the Pope to issue an apology “…to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims…”. This wording about the Irish has mystified me for some time.

Well, there never was an apology to the Irish by the Pope. The Pope at that time was Benedict XVI and he issued a pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland on March 19, 2010 – no apology included. Old Benedict pulled a slick one. Instead of apologizing, he ordered “…the Church in Ireland [to] first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children.” If we in Canada are going to be blessed in a way “similar to the 2010 apology issued to the Irish victims”, I say NO THANK YOU. Anyway, the Catholic Bishops in Canada can now simply say that they are miles ahead of whatever the Pope might say or do in December by having, already, issued their very own non-apology.

And so, it goes.

Rick Hardy

Métis Survivor of the Catholic Church

September 27, 2021

Rick Hardy is Métis and was born and raised in Fort Norman (now called Tulita) NWT and lived in School Residences in Inuvik, NWT, while attending Sir Alexander Mackenzie School from 1959 to 1965. Four of those years were spent at the now infamous Grollier Hall where he was one of the victims of the Devils of Grollier Hall. Rick is a former leader of the Fort Norman Métis Community as well as a former lawyer, who retired approximately three years ago. Rick can be contacted at hardylaw@gmail.com.

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