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BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief disappointed Pope Francis not visiting the province

A trip to Kamloops is not on the itinerary for Pope Francis during his trip to Canada.

He’ll be touring Quebec City, Edmonton, and Iqaluit from July 24th to 29th.

Last May, the Kamloops Indian Band confirmed the remains of 215 children near the site of a former residential school.

BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee told Vista Radio the Pope not spending any time in our province is a missed opportunity.

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“We would have appreciated the visit to a site where there are found graves of many children that went missing or died at the hands of the Catholic Church.”

“We are disappointed in the process on how they considered many of these sites and certainly as we’ve seen British Columbia wasn’t a part of their plans and that’s quite disappointing.”

Teegee added while they are pleased Pope Francis is coming to Canadian soil to issue a more extensive apology. He stated it wouldn’t have mattered which residential school site the Pope visited as long as he saw firsthand what Indigenous communities are dealing with.

“We have approximately 18 residential schools, three Indigenous run hospitals, and is really where the beginning of the findings of these many graves whether it’s Tk’ekmlups te Secwepemc (Kamloops Indian Band) and we are certainly disappointed.”

He is looking to be part of a delegation that heads to Edmonton to visit Pope Francis.

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In January, the Williams Lake First Nation announced its preliminary results from geophysical testing of lands around the St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School.

Using ground-penetrating radar and other technology, the First Nation is reporting 93 possible bodies in the 14 hectares that have been searched so far.

Two months later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the area and announced nearly three million dollars in funding for Phase 2 of the work.

In February, it was also announced that the Nadleh Whut’en is in the process of developing a plan for the Lejac Indian Residential School site search.

According to the First Nation, the former facility was run by the Catholic Church. The Lejac site has already seen some excavation and removal of the building waste and materials left behind after it was demolished.

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