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Unmarked grave findings in Canada prompt reckoning among U.S. churches – CBC.ca

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WARNING: This story contains details some readers may find distressing.

The discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada have prompted renewed calls for a reckoning over the traumatic legacy of similar schools in the United States — and in particular by the churches that operated many of them.

U.S. Catholic and Protestant denominations operated more than 150 boarding schools between the 19th and 20th centuries. Native American and Alaskan Native children were regularly severed from their tribal families, customs, language and religion and brought to the schools in a push to assimilate and Christianize them.

Some U.S. churches have been reckoning with this activity for years through ceremonies, apologies and archival investigations, while others are just getting started.

Discoveries in Canada a ‘wakeup call’

Some advocates say churches have more work to do in opening their archives, educating the public about what was done in the name of their faith and helping former students and their relatives tell their stories of family trauma.

“We all need to work together on this,” said the Rev. Bradley Hauff, a Minnesota-based Episcopal priest and missioner for Indigenous Ministries with the Episcopal Church.

“What’s happening in Canada, that’s a wakeup call to us,” said Hauff, who is enrolled with the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

This painful history has drawn relatively little attention in the United States compared with Canada, where the recent discoveries of graves underscored what a 2015 government commission called a “cultural genocide.”

That’s beginning to change.

This month top officials with the U.S. Episcopal Church acknowledged the denomination’s own need to reckon with its
involvement with such boarding schools.

“We have heard with sorrow stories of how this history has harmed the families of many Indigenous Episcopalians,” read a July 12 statement from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the denomination’s House of Deputies.

“We must come to a full understanding of the legacies of these schools,” they added, calling for the denomination’s next
legislative session in 2022 to earmark funds for independent research into church archives and to educate church members.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a U.S. cabinet secretary, announced last month that her department would investigate “the loss of human life and the lasting consequences of residential Indian boarding schools.”

That would include seeking to identify the schools and their burial sites. Soon afterward, she spoke at a long-planned ceremony at the former Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where the remains of nine children who died at the school more than a century earlier were returned to Rosebud Sioux tribal representatives for reburial in South Dakota.

U.S. religious groups were affiliated at least 156 such schools, according to the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, formed in 2012 to raise awareness and address the traumas of the institutions.

That’s more than 40 per cent of the 367 schools documented so far by the coalition.

Eighty-four were affiliated with the Catholic Church or its religious orders, such as the Jesuits. The other 72 were affiliated with various Protestant groups, including Presbyterians (21), Quakers (15) and Methodists (12).

Most have been closed for decades. Samuel Torres, director of research and programs for the coalition, said church apologies can be a good start but “there is a lot more to be done” on engaging Indigenous community members and
educating the public.

Such information is crucial given how little most Americans know about the schools, both in their impact on Indigenous communities and their role “as an armament toward acquisition of Native lands,” he said.

“Without that truth, then there’s really very limited possibilities of healing,” Torres said.

Hauff noted that the experiences of former students, such as his own parents, ranged widely.

Some said that even amid austerity, loneliness and family separation, they received a good education, made friends, learned skills and freely spoke tribal languages with peers. But others talked of “unspeakable, cruel abuse,” including
physical and sexual assault, malnourishment and being punished for speaking Native languages.

“Even if some of the children did say they had a positive experience, it did come at a price,” Hauff said. “Our church
worked hand in hand with the government to assimilate these children … We need to acknowledge it happened.”

In this 1910s photo provided by the United Church of Canada Archives, students write on a chalkboard at the Red Deer Indian Industrial School in Alberta. In Canada, the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 3,201 deaths amid poor conditions. (United Church of Canada Archives via AP)

In Canada, where more than 150,000 Indigenous children attended residential schools over more than a century, a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 3,201 deaths amid poor conditions.

The United Church of Canada, which operated 15 such schools, has apologized for its role, opened its archives and helped identify burial sites.

The Rev. Richard Bott, moderator of the United Church, lamented that “we were perpetrators in this” and that the church “put the national goal of assimilation ahead of our responsibility as Christians.”

The Catholic Church’s response in Canada remains controversial. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in June that he was “deeply disappointed” the Vatican has not offered a formal apology.

Pope Francis expressed “sorrow” following the discovery of the graves and has agreed to meet at the Vatican in December with school survivors and other Indigenous leaders.

Canada’s Catholic bishops said in a joint statement this month that they are “saddened by the Residential Schools legacy.”

In Saskatchewan, bishops have launched a fundraising campaign to benefit survivors and other reconciliation efforts.

U.S. churches address legacy to varying degrees

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, meanwhile, said it would “look for ways to be of assistance” in the Interior Department’s inquiry.

“We cannot even begin to imagine the deep sorrow these discoveries are causing in Native communities across North
America,” spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi said.

Influential voices such as the Jesuit-affiliated America Magazine are urging U.S. Catholic bishops not to repeat their mishandling of cases of child sex abuse by priests and other religious leaders.

“For decades the people of God were anguished by the obfuscation on the part of those church leaders who allowed only a trickle of incomplete document releases from diocesan and provincial archives while investigators struggled to get to the truth,” the magazine said in an editorial.

“The church in the United States must demonstrate that it has learned from … such failures.”

Individual efforts are underway, however, such as at the Red Cloud Indian School in South Dakota, which has formed a Truth and Healing Advisory Committee to reckon with the years it was managed by Catholic orders.

Other churches have addressed their legacy to varying degrees.

Early in 2017, leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) traveled to Utqiagvik, on Alaska’s North Slope, to deliver a
sweeping apology before a packed school auditorium for the treatment of Indigenous persons in general, and specifically for how it operated the boarding schools.

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, former stated clerk for the denomination, told the gathering that the church had been “in
contempt of its own proclaimed faith” in suppressing Native spiritual traditions amid its zeal to spread Christianity, and “the church judged when it should have listened.”

“It has taken us too long to get to this apology,” Parsons said. “Many of your people who deserved the apology the most are gone.”

The United Methodist Church held a ceremony of repentance in 2012 for historic injustices against Native peoples, and in 2016 it acknowledged its role in the boarding schools in tandem with a government effort to “intentionally” destroy traditional cultures and belief systems.

Still, the Native American International Caucus of the United Methodist Church recently urged the church to do more “to uncover the truth about our denomination’s role and responsibility in this reprehensible history.”


Support is available for anyone affected by the effects of residential schools, and those who are triggered by the latest reports.

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066.

A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

The NWT Help Line offers free support to residents of the Northwest Territories, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is 100% free and confidential. The NWT Help Line also has an option for follow-up calls. Residents can call the help line at 1-800-661-0844.

In Nunavut, the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line is open 24 hours a day at 1-800-265-3333. People are invited to call for any reason. 

In Yukon, mental health services are available to those in both Whitehorse and in rural Yukon communities through Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services. Yukoners can schedule Rapid Access Counselling supports in Whitehorse and all MWSU community hubs by calling 1-867-456-3838.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Ontario and New Brunswick rolled out vaccine passport systems on Wednesday that require people who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to show proof of vaccination before entering non-essential indoor spaces. 

The programs require people who are eligible for the vaccines to show proof of vaccination at non-essential businesses where large numbers of people gather, including dine-in restaurants, gyms, sports events and clubs.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, urged people to be patient as workers and businesses adjust to the new requirement. Moore said he hopes the new system will help boost vaccination rates — particularly among 20- to 39-year-olds, who currently have the highest rate of infection in Ontario.

Proof-of-vaccination systems are becoming more common across Canada, as governments work to boost vaccination rates amid increasing COVID-19 numbers. However, the systems are not without controversy — some view them as an infringement on individual rights, others argue that the systems put undue burdens on businesses that have already been hit hard by pandemic closures and ever-changing regulations.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged the divisions around vaccine mandates at a news conference on Wednesday, but he said the province can’t afford to shut down again or see another sudden surge in cases.

The vaccine certificate system is a temporary and exceptional measure, Ford said, as he again urged people to be patient as businesses adapt.

WATCH | Ford says vaccine passports will help keep businesses open:

Ontario vaccine certificate ‘temporary and exceptional,’ says premier

10 hours ago

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged that vaccine certificates are a ‘divisive issue,’ but says they will help keep business open through the fourth wave of COVID-19. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press) 1:01

Ford said the province would not use the program for “one day longer” than needed.

But when asked later at the news conference about what metrics he would use to determine when the vaccine passport requirements would be lifted, he didn’t offer specifics. The premier instead said the decision, when it came, would be made based on advice from the chief medical officer of health and the province’s science table.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 463 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths.

The systems put in place by officials in Ontario and New Brunswick allow for medical exemptions for people with documentation from their health-care provider.

However, experts in New Brunswick tell CBC that medical exemptions are rare because there’s little to no reason people physically can’t get vaccinated.

People wait in line at a mass vaccination and testing clinic for COVID-19 at the Moncton Coliseum in Moncton, N.B., on Wednesday, as new proof of vaccination rules take effect. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

In announcing New Brunswick’s new rules last week, Premier Blaine Higgs said the province’s original target of having 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated is no longer enough with the new highly transmissible variants. The goal is now 90 per cent.

Also starting Wednesday, New Brunswickers are once again required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

The province reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a new record high for daily cases. It also reported one additional death. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said the province is on a trajectory to have 100 new cases confirmed per day, every day.

From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Alberta premier shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity: 

Kenney shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney named former labour minister Jason Copping the new health minister after shuffling Tyler Shandro out of the role as the province’s hospitals near capacity and Kenney faces growing calls for his own resignation. 2:01


What’s happening around the world

German Health Minister Jens Spahn gives a press statement in Berlin as the country changed its approach to financial support for people who are not vaccinated. (Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images)

As of Wednesday evening, more than 229.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.

In Europe, Germany will stop sick pay for unvaccinated people who have to go into quarantine because of COVID-19. Previously, Germans could claim for income lost due to having to go into quarantine after returning from abroad or coming into contact with a positive case.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said the move was a matter of “fairness,” arguing that by the time the new rule comes into force on Nov. 1, everyone who wants a vaccine will have had an opportunity to get one. Those who choose not to “will need to bear responsibility for this then, including the financial costs,” he said.

Germany has fully vaccinated 63.4 per cent of its population. The government has said it wants to achieve a vaccination rate of 75 per cent to prevent a sharp rise in cases during the winter months.

In the Asia-Pacific region, officials in the northeast China city of Harbin say national level health officials have been sent to the city to deal with what may be a coronavirus outbreak. The city of 9.5 million people reported three infection cases on Wednesday, a day after discovering a first case of community transmission.

A medical worker collects a sample to be tested for COVID-19 in Harbin, in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province, on Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images)

After the initial finding, authorities started mass testing and closed schools. The city also ordered businesses such as mahjong parlours, cinemas and gyms to shut. City authorities say residents must display a negative virus test to be able to leave for only essential travel. Otherwise, people are being told to stay home.

In the Middle East, as coronavirus infections plummet and vaccinations accelerate in the United Arab Emirates, authorities have loosened a long-standing face mask mandate.

The Gulf Arab sheikhdom said Wednesday that residents no longer need to wear masks while exercising outdoors or visiting beaches and pools in the country. Those who receive medical or beauty treatments may also forgo the mask. However, face masks will still be required in indoor spaces such as shopping malls and public transportation.

WATCH | Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results for kids under 12: 

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine appears promising for kids under 12

Pfizer says its latest clinical trial data for its COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results in children under 12, raising the hopes of many parents with unvaccinated children. 2:01

In the Americas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, just back from the United Nations, isolated himself at home on Wednesday and cancelled a trip after his health minister tested positive for COVID-19 and had to stay in quarantine in New York. 

Bolsonaro defied UN rules that asked all those attending the assembly be inoculated against the coronavirus and was the only member of his entourage in New York who has not been vaccinated. Before travelling to the United States, he said he believed his antibody count from a bout with COVID-19 protected him better than a vaccine.

Meanwhile, United Airlines officials said 97 per cent of its U.S. employees are fully vaccinated, with less than a week to go before United employees face a deadline to get the shots or get fired. The Chicago-based airline has 67,000 U.S. employees.

In Africa, officials with the World Health Organization’s Africa region said this week that 14 countries on the continent had reached a goal of fully vaccinating 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September. But the same health officials noted that a “crippling vaccine supply shortage” remains a major issue for countries across Africa.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

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Evolution of Canada as a Modern Payments Leader

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With Silicon Valley taking most of the tech headlines from the North American continent, Japan being regularly publicized for its leaps in robotic technologies, and the UAE constantly investing in the latest tech, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many forget about Canada as a leader in the world.

However, just because Canada doesn’t command international headlines doesn’t mean that the country hasn’t proven to be incredibly tech-savvy, especially in the realms of payments and money. As a developed market, Canada has long boasted one of the highest credit card penetration rates in the world, at 83 percent (17 percent higher than the United States).

This is the start of a trend that will likely see Canada become the example of how payments around the world will take place, especially as it’s reported that the country will likely be the first to banish banknotes. Already, over 80 percent of Canadian bank transactions are made digitally, with there being many solutions available to the population. Yet, there’s more to come from the world-leading market in modern payments.

Rapid adoption of innovative cashless payment services

 

Source: Pixabay

While VISA, MasterCard, and American Express still form the foundations of much of Canada’s payments preferences, eWallet and mobile payment solutions have become incredibly prevalent. Both PayPal and Apple Pay boast a strong customer base across the country, with a 2019 survey indicating that over 20 percent of Canadians had the PayPal app, with over 15 percent installing the Apple Pay app.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, due to the influx of these once-termed ‘alternative’ payment methods, new industries have quickly embraced them to appeal to Canadians. This isn’t anywhere more apparent than with the online casino industry, with the very best accepting PayPal as well as Skrill, Neteller, Trustly, and the two card providers. By offering these safe and popular methods, players are happy to try out thousands of online games.

PayPal looks to be positioning itself as the leader of a cashless Canada, and yet it’ll be expanding its offering even further soon. In September 2021, PayPal paid US$2.7 billion to acquire Japanese online payments firm Paidy, which specializes in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and payments without credit cards. This could further enhance its appeal to the Canadian population.

Growing into an ever-more digital space for money

Source: Unsplash

Despite the rate of adoption of the newer or tech-savvy payment methods among customers, many still experience payment friction. It was found that over half of all Canadians have experienced a vendor not accepting their preferred payment method or there being a limit on the amount that can be transferred with any one purchase. This is why PayPal’s entry into BNPL could enhance its scope in Canada.

The BNPL market is tipped to be worth nearly US$4 trillion by the end of this decade, making it a powerhouse option in eCommerce. It will certainly become popular in less-developed markets, where people want more expensive goods than they can afford outright. However, it also has its place in a market like Canada, which will make all tiers of purchase more accessible to all, particularly if the PayPal rollout gains traction.

Another digital area of finance that Canada is seen to be particularly smitten with is that of cryptocurrencies. The government has created a remarkably crypto-friendly regulatory landscape, helping all kinds of coins to know where they stand, appeal to Canadians, and be used across the country. It’s said that around 1.2 million people (3.2 percent of the population) own cryptocurrencies in Canada already.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Canada is tipped to become the first cashless nation in the world, particularly with the adoption rate of eWallets and the embrace of even more modern solutions.

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Alberta province replaces health minister

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The premier Alberta province replaced his health minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, as a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases swamped the healthcare system and the government came under fire for mishandling the pandemic.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney replaced Tyler Shandro with Jason Copping, who previously served as minister of labour and immigration. Shandro took Copping’s former role.

Hospitals in Canada‘s western oil-producing province are buckling under a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. There are a record number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, and Alberta has cancelled all non-elective surgeries and discussed transferring patients to other provinces.

United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Kenney and Shandro both face criticism for loosening public health measures much faster than other provinces earlier this year and delaying proof of vaccination requirements as cases started to rise.

“This cabinet shuffle is once again Jason Kenney refusing to take responsibility for his actions and his decisions,” independent lawmaker Drew Barnes, a member of the legislative assembly, told Reuters. “The best thing he could do is resign.”

Barnes was thrown out of the UCP caucus in May for publicly calling for Kenney’s resignation.

Alberta is a conservative stronghold but support for the federal party led by Erin O’Toole slipped in Monday’s election, which some Conservatives blamed on dissatisfaction with Kenney.

On Tuesday the province wrote to the federal government formally requesting more critical care staff and for help transporting patients out of Alberta.

 

(Reporting by Nia Williams; editing by Barbara Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall)

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