Skip to main content

Inviting Pope Francis to come to Manitoba


On April 28th, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on an Opposition Day Motion to invite Pope Francis to come to Manitoba. My comments are below.

Opposition Day Motion:   To invite Pope Francis to come to Manitoba as part of his upcoming visit to Canada to deliver, in person … a papal apology to resi­den­tial school sur­vivors on behalf of the Catholic Church, which should include a visit to the graves of First Nations and other Indigenous children who perished in these in­sti­tu­tions and a blessing of the grave of Louis Riel in St. Boniface, all with the goal of advancing recon­ciliation for Manitobans from all walks of life.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, we have all watched the coverage of the recent delegations going to visit Pope Francis in Rome. We have watched as the delegations and their visits have raised awareness of what happened at resi­den­tial schools in Manitoba and across Canada. We have watched as Pope Francis has apologized for the harms that were done at resi­den­tial schools.

      We understand that Pope Francis is planning to come to Canada, we hear in late July. We need to welcome Pope Francis on his journey to our country. We hope that Pope Francis will visit Winnipeg and Manitoba.

      The Manitoba Liberal Party, we support this reso­lu­tion for our Speaker and our Province to invite Pope Francis formally to come to Canada to deliver in person the papal apology to resi­den­tial school sur­vivors, to visit the graves of First Nation and other Indigenous children and to give a blessing on the grave of Louis Riel with the goal of advancing recon­ciliation for all Manitobans and all Canadians.

      Recon­ciliation is a journey. We are all on that journey. We travel together, recog­nizing the harms that were done at resi­den­tial schools and in the process which involved taking children from their parents and from their families, a process which occurred as a part of the process of taking children and putting them in resi­den­tial schools.

      For me, it has been a long journey learning from Indigenous people. I remember visiting Montreal Lake in northern Saskatchewan in the 1960s and learn­ing of the lack of locally relevant teaching materials and visiting La Ronge and hearing with horror that the movies shown in the local theatre almost always provided a negative view of Indigenous people.

      In the 1960s and since, I learned of the in­cred­ible knowledge and wisdom of Indigenous people in relationship to nature, to Mother Earth, to wildlife and, most parti­cularly, knowledge with respect to bald eagles and fish, knowledge which was relevant and helpful to work that I was doing with others and, indeed, continue to do.

      In the late 1960s, helping out at a health clinic in Kahnawake near Montreal, I learned of the in­cred­ible skill of Indigenous people in the com­mu­nity in build­ing skyscrapers in New York. I also read and started learning from the story of Poundmaker and others of the terrible way that Indigenous people have been treated so often.

      In my years as a physician at the Children's Hospital and the Manitoba cancer foundation, I got to know, personally, many amazing Indigenous children and their parents. In my time in Oklahoma, I was there for two six-month periods, I learned of the Cherokee people who developed their own alphabet, actually a syllabary, and marveled at their ability to develop their writing and printing and newspapers in the first several decades of the 1800s, now close to 200 years ago.

      In my time in politics, I have learned, to my shock, of the child and family services system in Manitoba, of the far too many mistakes, errors and harms which have occurred in the pattern of be­haviour, a pattern of behaviour which has mimicked that in resi­den­tial schools taking children away from their families. The stories I have heard have been and are horrific. It was a wake-up call to me, as was visiting Brandon in about 2007 and learning of the children who went to resi­den­tial schools and who never came home.

      But I have also learned of the in­cred­ible and too often underap­pre­ciated expertise of Indigenous know­ledge keepers and leaders. We have a long way to go in this journey of recon­ciliation. It is a journey of under­standing past harms. It is a journey of also ap­pre­­cia­ting the strengths and the contributions of Indigenous people to our province, Manitoba, and our country, Canada. It's a journey of making sure that op­por­tun­ities are there for Indigenous people and for non-Indigenous people to walk and travel together in a better way, and toward a better future.

      We hope that Pope Francis will accept our invitation to visit Manitoba. We say to Pope Francis, we need you to come to help us on our journey of recon­ciliation.

      Miigwech, merci, thank you.


Popular posts from this blog

Dougald Lamont speaks at Meth Forum last night to present positive ideas to address the epidemic, while exposing the lack of action by the Pallister Conservatives

Last night at the Notre Dame Recreation Centre in St. Boniface, at an Election Forum on the Meth Crisis in Manitoba, Dougald Lamont spoke eloquently about the severity of the meth epidemic and described the Liberal plan to address it.  The Liberal Plan will make sure that there is a single province-wide phone number for people, or friends of people, who need help dealing with meth to call (as there is in Alberta) and that there will be rapid access to a seamless series of steps - stabilization, detoxification, treatment, extended supportive housing etc so that people with meth addiction can be helped well and effectively and so that they can rebuild their lives.  The Liberal meth plan will be helped by our approach to mental health (putting psychological therapies under medicare), and to poverty (providing better support).  It will also be helped by our vigorous efforts to help young people understand the problems with meth in our education system and to provide alternative positive

Manitoba Liberal accomplishments

  Examples of Manitoba Liberal accomplishments in the last three years Ensured that 2,000 Manitoba fishers were able to earn a living in 2020   (To see the full story click on this link ). Introduced a bill that includes retired teachers on the Pension Investment Board which governs their pension investments. Introduced amendments to ensure school aged children are included in childcare and early childhood education plans moving forward. Called for improvements in the management of the COVID pandemic: ·          We called for attention to personal care homes even before there was a single case in a personal care home. ·            We called for a rapid response team to address outbreaks in personal care homes months before the PCs acted.  ·          We called for a science-based approach to preparing schools to   improve ventilation and humidity long before the PCs acted. Helped hundreds of individuals with issues during the pandemic including those on social assistance

The Indigenous Science Conference in Winnipeg June 14-16

  June 14 to 16, I spent three days at the Turtle Island Indigenous Science Conference.  It was very worthwhile.   Speaker after speaker talked of the benefits of using both western or mainstream science and Indigenous science.  There is much we can learn from both approaches.   With me above is Myrle Ballard, one of the principal organizers of the conference.  Myrle Ballard, from Lake St. Martin in Manitoba, worked closely with Roger Dube a professor emeritus at Rochester Institute of Technology, and many others to make this conference, the first of its kind, a success.  As Roger Dube, Mohawk and Abenaki, a physicist, commented "My feeling is that the fusion of traditional ecological knowledge and Western science methodology should rapidly lead the researchers to much more holistic solutions to problems."   Dr. Myrle Ballard was the first person from her community to get a PhD.  She is currently a professor at the University of Manitoba and the Director of Indigenous Science