‘A chance to listen’: Archbishop of Canterbury arrives in Saskatchewan
The Church of England leader arrived in the Prince Albert area to spend two days meeting with Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors.
Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury will attend rallies on James Smith’s Cree Nation on Saturday before preaching at St. Alban’s Anglican Cathedral in Prince Albert on Sunday. He will then attend a public gathering hosted by the Prince Albert Grand Council at 2 p.m. on May 1 inside the main hall of the Prince Albert Exhibition.
TOUR – PAGC Grand Chief welcomes Archbishop’s visit as sign of Church of England’s commitment to reconciliation
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“This is a rare and significant event,” said PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte. “It is not often that the Archbishop of Canterbury comes to our territories. This visit will be an important day for all Indigenous peoples across the country, because of its importance in achieving true reconciliation.
Welby released a prepared statement calling the visit an “opportunity to listen, lament and pray for justice, healing and transformation” in the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Church of England.
Hardlotte said Indigenous people here in Canada felt relieved when the Anglican Church acknowledged and apologized for their role in the residential school system. He said the Archbishop’s visit is a strong sign of the Church’s commitment to righting a historic wrong.
Welby will also have the chance to hear the stories and concerns of former residential school students. The Prince Albert event will include a song of honor and a gift presentation.
Hardlotte said he hopes the first-hand accounts will shed more light on what happened at the residential schools.
“Hearing only comes when our truths are expressed and validated,” he said. “There is still much work to be done, and I pray that these testimonies will help survivors find peace and point us to a more positive path of true reconciliation.”
Welby’s visit coincides with the 50th session of the Provincial Synod of the Church of England, which runs from April 28 to May 1 in Prince Albert. The theme is “Truth and Reconciliation: Our Journey to Freedom in Christ”. Delegates from the three Prairie provinces, as well as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut will be present.
Welby will travel to James Smith Cree Nation today to meet with leaders and former students of Bernard Constant Community School. The event will include a pipe ceremony, opening prayer, gospel reading, sharing of alumni stories and a community visit.
“An important purpose of this visit, therefore, is to repent and atone where our relationships and actions have done more harm than good – and to honor the sovereignty of Indigenous communities,” Welby said in a prepared statement. . “This visit will be an opportunity to listen.
Former residential school students who suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues as a result of their experiences can call the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program at 1-866-925-4419.