Survivors of Akwesasne Residential Schools: No Apologies Without Justice


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The Mohawk Institute boarding school operated in Ontario, Canada between 1831 and 1970. The Woodland Cultural Center is now located on the grounds. Photo: Sean Marshall

Akwesasronon Shonataten:ron (Akwesasne Residential School Survivors) Statement Regarding the Papal Visit to Canada

Monday, July 25, 2022


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

Sekon Skennen:kowa (Greetings of Great Peace to all). We are the Survivors of Mohawk Residential Schools (the Akwesasronon Shonatten:ron) those who endured abduction, isolation, displacement, starvation, corporal punishment, linguistic suppression and cultural alienation while confined in institutions designed by Canada and administered by the Catholic churches and Anglican to kill our minds and paralyze our bodies. They missed. While the harm inflicted on us is permanent with residual effects on our descendants, we have proven our resilience with an unwavering determination to secure justice for ourselves, our communities, our families and the children whose bodies lie abandoned under earth. We actively search for missing children. We scour the archives to find the records of those who were robbed from their homes so we can answer these basic questions:

  • who was taken
  • How many were taken
  • where they were taken
  • What happened to them in these places of confinement
  • Where are the missing
  • What is the way to die for those who perished in these institutions

We organize and use contemporary technologies to locate children’s burial places. We interview survivors so that their stories are preserved. We rise above being labeled as “victims” to take direct control of all aspects of the truth and reconciliation process. We reject all actions that do not directly involve our participation. Nothing will happen for us without us. No one can speak on our behalf without our express permission. We do not accept the apology of April 1 issued by Pope Francis. We, as Haudenosaunee, have been clearly excluded from this session because our position is unambiguous: no excuses, no justice. We were also kicked out of the Quebec session, which is tragic given that our people set the standards for finding missing children and bringing them home. For us, the Pope must recognize that the Roman Catholic Church has not only failed in its legal obligations to care for and protect children, but that people employed or working officially within the Church have deliberately harmed us ; that these people committed criminal acts and subsequently escaped all responsibility. We will not “absolve” or accept anything less than an admission of liability sufficient under the law. Those who inflicted these acts must be prosecuted and those who allowed the crimes to continue must also be held accountable. In addition, all records held by the Church regarding residential schools and RC children must be made public. We expect the Pope to acknowledge that crimes against children have taken place while committing to work with us to reach a final resolution, defined by victims and based on real justice.

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


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