Abuse survivors await apology from Anglican Church for physical harm: Bennett

OTTAWA — Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says the Anglican Church’s recent apology for “spiritual harm” it has done to Indigenous Peoples is a beginning.

But she says survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of an Anglican priest continue to wait for a formal apology for their physical harm.

Bennett says several survivors have been clear they want an apology from the church for the legacy of Ralph Rowe, a former priest and Boy Scout leader who abused children during the two decades he spent travelling among remote First Nations communities in northern Ontario.

On Friday, the church issued a public apology through Primate Fred Hiltz for “cultural and spiritual arrogance” toward all Indigenous Peoples and the harm it inflicted.

The apology does not refer to Rowe but in 2017, the church acknowledged the legacy of Rowe’s abuse and signalled it was working toward a “formal national apology to the victims of Ralph Rowe and to their communities.”

In a statement, the Anglican Church of Canada said it will offer an apology when communities and leaders have determined it is the right time and when communities affected are ready to receive it.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says he is hopeful the church, once ready, will be able to offer “tangible and meaningful” support to accompany its apology to all victims and families.

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