Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Former First Nations chief apologizes for blaming all Catholics for residential school abuse

Phil Fontaine adopts Archbishop James Weisgerber as a brother in reconciliation ceremony
Archbishop James Weisgerber (centre), and his adopted brothers Tobasonakwut Kinew, Bert Fontaine, Phil Fontaine and Fred Kelly dance around the Thunderbird House after the ceremony. Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press

Former Assembly of First Nations national chief Phil Fontaine realized that not all Catholics are painted with the same brush.

He told the Winnipeg Free Press, April 25, that it was only a select few Catholics that caused him harm while in a residential school. 
"I tarred everyone with the same brush — I was wrong, simply wrong," former Assembly of First Nations national chief Fontaine told a gathering of reconciliation at Thunderbird House. "I apologize. I say that from my heart."
Fontaine, brother Bert Fontaine, and elders Fred Kelly and Tobasonakwut Kinew made Archbishop James Weisgerber, Archdiocese of Winnipeg, their brother as part of a traditional ceromony of reconciliation.
"I’m honoured to be here — this is an historic event," said Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, who served as witness to the adoption.
Fontaine has been critical of the Church in regards to his dark experiences while attending residential schools. He said that his public reaction over the schools overshadowed the work done by good people.
"My words have also hurt a lot of people, my bitterness, my anger. I was indiscriminate in my words."


  1. Fr. John TritschlerApril 22, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    I honor you, Chief Phil Fontaine, and those who were with you in the adoption of Archbishop Weisgerber as a brother. On a number of occasions, most recently this last weekend at a women's prayer day, I have spoken of your positive comments to the Canadian Catholic Bishops in Cornwall Ontario in 2008, and to Pope Benedict in 2009. I thank you for your courage to speak from your heart as you have done. Your goodwill and your good words will help the much needed reconciliation between the native people of Canada and Christian communities. The Hand of God was truly present when you spoke as you did.
    Fr. John Tritschler
    St. Anthony's Catholic Church
    7237 Morrow Rd.
    Agassiz, B.C.
    V0M 1A2
    Tel/Fax: 1-604-796-9181

    1. This is really wonderful and a big step for many I think. Thank you Father Tritschler'

      Pax et Bonum
      Gloria Enoch, OFS
      St. Clare Fraternity


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