A group of over 500 doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers from one of Canada’s largest Catholic healthcare networks have signed an open letter requesting that Toronto’s archbishop take meaningful efforts toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
Staff at Unity Health Toronto are pushing Cardinal Thomas Collins and the Catholic Church to reveal any documentation connected to residential schools and “Indian hospitals” that operated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as to deliver a public apology. Signatures have been collected from all three hospitals in the network: St. Michael’s, St. Joseph’s, and Providence.
Shoush, who is both Black and Indigenous, said the outpouring of support from her colleagues, including some of the country’s best doctors, is unparalleled. The plea comes after the discovery of what are believed to be unmarked burial sites of children’s remains near a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, last month.
The church’s role in the operation of many of Canada’s residential schools, as well as its refusal to deliver a formal apology or release records, drew immediate attention. “The time has come to listen to these children’s voices,” said Cree-Métis Dr. Janet Smylie, who also serves on the advisory council and holds a Canada Research Chair in promoting Indigenous health services.
“There is clearly a conflict here between all of the beautiful things that organized religion, especially the Catholic church, stands for – love and compassion. I hope that the acts that take place in the coming days, weeks, and months are motivated by the principles that the church preaches, rather than by bureaucracy and concerns about legal ramifications.”