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The Catholic Church has had decades to atone for the central role it played in the creation and administration of residential schools in Canada. And for decades, it declined to do much of anything on that front. But now, in the wake of the discovery of unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children in Kamloops near the site of a former residential school, the church may not be able to hide from its past any longer. Nor will it be able to hide that past from everyone else. There have been apologies and expressions of regret offered by local Catholic orders and dioceses in the past for the role they played in the mistreatment and abuse of Indigenous children, although the Pope has been steadfast in his refusal to offer a public apology. But words alone were never going to be enough, especially when they were being uttered by representatives of a church that was simultaneously stonewalling officials on the release of key documents and records about the residential school system they helped build. Those records could have helped reveal the location of the unmarked graves in Kamloops, and they would almost certainly point families and officials to other similar sites across the country.

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