Truth and Reconciliation

A survivor of a Quebec aboriginal residential school takes part in a march April 24, 2013, to mark the first day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's hearings in Montreal. Photograph by: PHIL CARPENTER, THE GAZETTE , THE GAZETTE

The other morning, I read a surprisingly interesting and informative newspaper article  in the Prince George Citizen. It reported on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which was holding hearings in Prince George for aboriginal survivors of residential schools. One man named Jack Lacerte spoke of the abuse that was inflicted on him at Lejak Residential school in the British Columbia interior. His father had attended the school as a student and then served as a staff member. One night, four students ran away. They crossed the ice of Fraser Lake but froze to death. The Citizen quoted Lacerte,

”The priest said that there would be a big investigation by Indian Affairs, and two priests arrived from Ottawa by train” said Lacerte. He remembered how they came to the Lacerte home and asked to speak to his father. “They said to my father ‘This is what we want you to say to Indian Affairs’. My dad and mom were quite strong Catholics and dad outright told them ‘what you’re asking me to tell them is a lie’ and refused. The priests said ‘You have 24 hours to get off the property’ so he moved us to Fraser Lake.” The unjust expulsion was shameful, but adding to the injury was the priests’ next move. They destroyed any record of the Lacerte family working or schooling at Lejac.

Echoes of Charles Chiniquy. Coming from Ottawa, obviously these priests were sent by officials in high authority in this religious organization. The one concern they had was the wellbeing of this organization, not the truth and not even Catholic people. I attended this hearing and providentially, met this gentleman outside, talked to him and found out who he was. Mr. Lecerte went on to serve in the Canadian Air Force and then the RCMP. He confirmed what was reported about him. I asked him if he was a Catholic and he said no resoundingly, replying he was a born-again Christian. He said that Catholicism twists what the Bible says. He said that the Word of God said not to have any false gods before Him.

He also pointed out that the Scriptures doesn’t say to pray to Mary, that Jesus said “I would be gone for a thousand years so pray to my mother and she will give the message when I get back”. He agreed that the Roman Catholic Church is trying to weasel out of the blame of abuse at residential schools and it has said that the “Canadian federal government had asked us to do this and therefore they should pay, and not the Church”.
Afterwards, I went inside and heard the emotional testimony of one woman who spoke about being raped, as a child, by a Catholic priest. I also saw a local reporter there and asked him if there was a Catholic response to what had been said. He said that the new Bishop of the area wouldn’t talk to them, even about being the new bishop. Interesting.

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