Catholic Voices Of Reconciliation is a series of interviews with Catholic First Nation individuals who were a part of Pope Francis’ visit to the Edmonton Archdiocese. We asked each of them three questions about their experience as both followers of Christ and First Nations people and practical ways that local Catholics can support truth and reconciliation.
Elder Fernie Marty is Cree from Papaschase First Nation. He is a survivor of the Beaver Crossing residential day school, that was located in northeastern Alberta. He has lived in Edmonton for 25 years and is a longtime parishioner and elder at Sacred Heart Church of The First Peoples in the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Elder Marty was present when the Pope visited Sacred Heart Church Of The First Peoples during his 2022 Canadian Papal visit.
What is one way that the Pope’s visit has impacted you?
I heard the apology. . . and it really touched my heart. He said he was truly sorry and that those things should have never happened. There were tears in my eyes, and not only my eyes. I was watching other people too, when the Pope was apologizing here in Maskwacis, Alberta, and there were tears in many eyes, so that was good.
What is one practical way that people in your local community can support the continued healing between First Nations people and the Church?
Well, I believe that the truth has to be spoken. We have to accept that those things did happen in Canada and making sure those things never happen again.
Encouraging people to heal from their traumas, talking to their ministers, talking to other people they trust, the more we talk about it, and ask for guidance, then that healing happens.
Sacred Heart [Church of the First Peoples] encourages people to talk about their traumas and encourages people to speak with others and to have mentors who are willing to sit there and listen.
What is one way that the efforts towards truth and reconciliation have blessed you personally?
It has made me realize that I don’t need to be stuck in all that trauma. I can deal with it and go on with my life. I’m a day school survivor myself, personally, and I do not need to live in that pain and suffering.
Jenny Connelly – Archdiocese of Edmonton