Residential schools are seen as a black stain on Canada's history. If you've somehow never heard of them before here are the basics summed up in a nutshell. 

For over 100 years, starting in the late 1800's, Canada's government and the Catholic Church ran the residential schools program for indigenous youth in Canada. Essentially taking children from their parents at a young age in an effort to assimilate them into western society by stripping them of their language and traditions. 

Many kids faced physical, physiological and sexual abuse at the hands of the members of the church who ran most of the schools.  

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The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up as a way to allow people who had been to these schools to tell their stories and recommended actions from both the government and the church as part of the healing process for survivors of the schools.

Former Prime Minister Steven Harper apologized to the survivors of the school system for the abuse they were put through because of the governments decision to send them to the schools back in 2008.  

And last year Justin Trudeau apologized to survivors of the schools of Newfoundland and Labrador, which were not a part of Canada when the schools were set up 

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The pope on the other hand says he will not be apologizing.  

In an open letter to Canada's indigenous community Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said: 

"The Holy Father is aware of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which he takes seriously. As far as Call to Action #58 is concerned, after carefully considering the request and extensive dialogue with the Bishops of Canada, he felt that he could not personally respond."   

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Gendron goes on to say that the Pope has not ruled out the possibility of visiting Canada and meeting with members of the indigenous community.

"A future Papal visit to Canada may be considered, taking into account all circumstances, and including an encounter with the Indigenous Peoples as a top priority."   

So there you have it. The Canadian government has made some progress in making amends to indigenous Canadians, but the church still has a ways to go it seems. 

Sources: Global, Maclean'sCanadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

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