Q&A: “We’re still here,” Sask. Métis elder to talk to Pope Francis

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Elder Norman Fleury is to join the Métis National Council delegation to the Vatican.

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A Métis elder from Saskatchewan has a message for the spiritual leader of over a billion Catholics.

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Elder Norman Fleury will join the Métis National Council delegation to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis in December. Anne Lafleur, a survivor of the Île à la Crosse residential school, is also part of the delegation.

The group intends to convey “the deep and lasting intergenerational trauma that residential schools inflicted on the Métis Nation, and the need for the Church to provide reparations to the Métis Nation, including financial support for the initiatives. community healing and rebuilding, ”a Métis National Council said in a statement.

Fleury, who is an eighth generation Métis, spoke with the StarPhoenix about his personal message to Pope Francis.

Q: How does it feel to be part of this delegation?

A: It doesn’t happen every day. Even though I’ve been a Catholic for 73 years. I was baptized, vindicated, (been) altar boy, and went to church, and believed, and still believe, in God.

When we deliver a united message to the Pope from the Métis nation, this is most important (by the way) of residential schools. But it’s also based on other things.

I could see very strong communication building and educating the Pope (by) examining our spiritual connection that we (had) (had) with Catholicism for many, many generations.

Q: What role does your faith play?

A: Because we were believers, we followed the rules of the Church, and what is so disappointing is that these are people who are meant to be representatives of God and the Creator.

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Our ancestors did not read or write. My grandfather said “the Big Book” in reference to the Bible.

We took our native spirituality and our Catholicism and put it together. Water has significance for the church, but it is different for the Métis. The fire, the candle, has a meaning that is greater for us as we build this oneness of who we are.

Much of history – which was here forever – was swept away by cultural genocide, by the residential school system. But you know what? It never worked.

That’s why we’re talking about going to Rome to talk to the Pope, because God said, “No, you’re not going to destroy these people. They are also my creation. I created these people.

Q: What do you think you say to Pope Francis?

A: We are still here. This is what the Pope must hear. You haven’t killed our mind.

That’s why we’re still here, Holy Father. I am still there with my rosary. And I still stand here today like my ancestors were.

I am still the same person. And you didn’t kill us. But you killed a lot of our children.

You are supposed to represent the seventh of the 10 commandments that I learned: “You shall not kill.

You won’t do this, you won’t do that – and you’ve done them all. You still have a problem: apologize to the people you harassed and wanted to destroy. The Pope is the peacemaker of the world.

We are here in front of you.

The Residential School Health Support Program has a hotline to assist residential school survivors and their loved ones with trauma from recalling past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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