Inuvialuit corp. declines Iqaluit papal invite

Grollier Hall in Inuvik in 1987. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation said it will not be participating in the Papal visit to Iqaluit as a result of the Catholic Church being unclear “if a formal apology will be made or not.” (NWT Archives/James Jerome/N-1987-017-2599)

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation will not be attending the papal visit to Iqaluit and instead invited the church and the Canadian Catholic Bishops to “reflect upon their role in the colonization of Inuvialuit Nunangat,” the Inuvialuit homeland.

In a news release, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) said it respectfully declined the invitation to attend the event scheduled for July 29, “as it remains unclear if a formal apology will be made or not.”

The Roman Catholic Church operated three residential schools in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, according to the corporation, including the notorious Grollier Hall residence in Inuvik and the Immaculate Conception hostel and day school in Aklavik.

Call for specific actions

In a private meeting with the Pope in the Vatican in late March, Natan Obed, a national Inuit leader and president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, called for specific actions including the Pope delivering an apology in Canada. Obed also called for the Canadian Catholic Bishops to follow its legal obligations under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which includes paying $25 million in financial restitution to survivors of residential school.

The settlement also requires the church to provide immediate access to relevant documents that are necessary to identify Inuit children who may have died while at residential schools and who need to be “posthumously reunited with their families and communities.”

The IRC said it recognizes the papal visit, but will withhold any involvement “while the church continues to withhold any settlement payments, despite promises made in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.”

“Inuvialuit continue to bear the burden of intergenerational trauma stemming from residential schools and will never forget these atrocities,” the IRC release said.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: N.W.T. residential school survivors, descendants head to Edmonton for papal visit, CBC News

Finland: Psychosocial support for Sami proposed ahead of Finland’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland, Denmark initiate investigation into past relations, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Can cross-border cooperation help decolonize Sami-language education, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sami in Sweden start work on structure of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Alaska reckons with missing data on murdered Indigenous women, Alaska Public Media.

Luke Caroll, CBC News

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