Head of Anglican Church in Canada visits the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre in Sault Ste. Marie
SAULT STE. MARIE -- The current primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Linda Nicholls, made her first visit to Sault Ste. Marie and the site of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School.
The church played a role in one of the darkest chapters of our country's history when it ran nearly three dozen residential schools between 1820-1969.
Nicholls apologized for the role the church played, saying it cannot sweep it under the rug and try to forget what happened.
"If we don’t know our history we have, we run the risk of repeating it," said Nicholls.
The Anglican Church of Canada was one of the first religious organizations 30 years ago to apologize for running residential schools.
Since then, numerous leaders of the church have visited the former residential school, which is now the site of Algoma University.
Staff at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre said in the past five to 10 years more people are publicly speaking up and offering support to help others heal.
"We’re seeing a lot more people wanting to be a part of an active part of the healing from this time in our country," said Elizabeth Edgar-Webkamigad, director of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. "So to tell the truth and to listen to the truth and to hear the truth and help people feel and heal from that feeling is important."
Nicholls said the organization is taking a hard look at the way the church conducted itself.
“Certainly the Anglican church is in the middle of a major look at colonialism and the role it played, racism and the role it played. And that of course is increasingly important today," said Nicholls.
While at the Shingwauk cemetery, Nicholls prayed for the more than 100 children and staff members who never made it home from the school decades ago, who are now buried on the property.