Indianz.Com > News > Residential School Survivors of Akwesasne: No apology without justice
Woodland Cultural Centre / Mohawk Institute Residential School
The Mohawk Institute Residential School operated in Ontario, Canada, between 1831 and 1970. The Woodland Cultural Centre is now located on the grounds. Photo: Sean Marshall
Statement of the Akwesasronon Shonataten:ron (Residential School Survivors of Akwesasne) regarding the Papal visit to Canada
Monday, July 25, 2022

The following is the text of a July 22, 2022, statement from the Akwesasronon Shonataten:ron, who are the Mohawk survivors of residential schools in Canada.

Sekon Skennen:kowa (Greetings of Great Peace to all).

We are the Mohawk Residential School Survivors, (the Akwesasronon Shonataten:ron) those who endured kidnapping, isolation, displacement, hunger, physical punishment, linguistic suppression and cultural alienation while confined to institutions designed by Canada and administered by the Catholic and Anglican churches to kill our spirits and cripple our bodies.

They failed.

While the harm inflicted upon us is permanent with residual effects on our descendants we have proven to be resilient with a unwavering determination to secure justice for our selves, our communities, our families and those children whose bodies lie abandoned beneath the ground.

We are now actively searching for the missing children. We are scouring archives to find the records of those who were stolen from their homes so that we may answer these fundamental questions:

  • Who was taken
  • How many were taken
  • Where they were taken to
  • What happened to them at these places of confinement
  • Where are the missing
  • What is the manner of death for those who perished at those institutions

We are organizing and using contemporary technologies to locate the burial sites of the children. We are interviewing the survivors so their stories may be preserved. We are rising above being labelled as “victims” to take direct control of all aspects of the truth and reconciliation process. We reject any and all actions which do not directly involve our participation. Nothing will be done for us without us. No one may speak on our behalf without our express approval.

We do not accept the April 1 apology spoken by Pope Francis. We, as Haudenosaunee, were clearly excluded from that session because our position is unambiguous: No Apology Without Justice. We have been excluded from the Quebec City session as well which is tragic given that our people are setting the standards for finding the missing children and returning them home.

To us the Pope must acknowledge that the Roman Catholic Church not only failed in its legal obligations to care and protect the children but that individuals employed or working officially within the Church deliberately brought harm to us; that these people committed criminal acts and subsequently escaped liability.

We will not give “absolution” nor will we accept anything less than an admission of responsibility sufficient under law. Those who inflicted these acts must be prosecuted and those who allowed crimes to continue must also be liable. In addition, all records held by the Church regarding the residential schools and the RC children must be released.

We expect the Pope to acknowledge that crimes against children took place while committing itself to working with us towards achieving a final resolution, one defined by the victims and based on actual justice.

To reach the Akwesasronon Shonataten:ron, contact Doug George-Kanentiio at 315-415-7288 or Rarakwisere at 518-353-8730.