Mysterious and spiritual: Indigenous Peoples day offers opportunity to explore ancient cave

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Some of the earliest evidence of human activity in North America can be found in northern B.C.

One of North America's most important and mysterious archeological sites sits a short drive north of Fort St. John, B.C., and the little-known cave may become more familiar on National Indigenous Peoples day Thursday.

T'se'K'wa, formerly known as Charlie Lake Cave, holds some of the oldest evidence of human activity in North America, dating back 12,000 years.

On National Indigenous Peoples Day, the First Nations who now own the land around it are inviting the public to come view the site and hear from elders why it is still an important and sacred space.

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Source: CBC News

Students build tiny homes to tackle Alberta First Nation's housing crisis

A southern Alberta First Nation is testing out a tiny home pilot project in the hope of both tackling its housing crisis and setting up high school students for careers in the trades.

On Wednesday, Piikani Nation broke ground on the federally-funded pilot program. Over the coming eight weeks, a dozen high school students from ages 15 to 18 will work from the ground up to build a one-bedroom tiny home for a local elder.

"We're giving these kids an experience as a team, empowerment, pride and a sense of community," said Jay Noel, the program manager and business development community partner with Your Choice Homes.

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'When you do wrong, you apologize': Indigenous leaders disappointed with Pope Francis

Residential school survivor saddened Pope won't come to Canada to issue apology

A residential school survivor says he's disgusted Pope Francis has decided not to apologize for the Catholic Church's role in the schools.

"They haven't changed their position from day one. And they never will. The only thing (the Church) could say is sorry he got caught, that's all," said Ted Quewezance, who was abused while attending St. Phillip's residential school near Kamsack.

The Pope's decision was announced this week in an open letter "to the Indigenous peoples of Canada" by Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The call for an apology on Canadian soil was one of the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made the request during a visit last year to the Vatican.

"The Holy Father is aware of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which he takes seriously," stated the letter. "As far as Call to Action #58 is concerned, after carefully considering the request and extensive dialogue with the Bishops of Canada, he felt that he could not personally respond."

According to the letter, the Pope encouraged bishops to continue working with Indigenous elders and others and to "collaborate on concrete projects" toward reconciliation.

Apology should have been simple: survivor

Quewezance, one of the first survivors to speak openly about the abuses he faced, said the apology should have been a simple matter.

"They know they did wrong. When you do wrong, you apologize," he said.

Former Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Felix Thomas, Regina Archdiocese Archbishop Don Bolen and others have been working for months to bring the Pope to Wanuskewin Heritage Park near Saskatoon for the apology.

Both said Wednesday they were disappointed.

"Most First Nations people that went to residential schools should be disappointed. It was a dark time in history. We were confident he would come here," said Thomas, who now sits on the Wanuskewin board.

Current STC Chief Mark Arcand said residential schools damaged the students irreparably, but that the legacy continues. He said the high rates of illness, incarceration and other maladies in Indigenous people can be traced in part to residential schools.

Pope apologized for wrongs in Ireland, Peru

Arcand noted the Pope has apologized to victims of abuse and colonization in Peru and Ireland.

"Why are First Nations people not allowed to get the same thing. We're looking for the same respect," Arcand said.

"We hope you reconsider. The door is open. You're always welcome to Treaty Six territory."

In 1991, Canadian Catholic Bishops issued an apology, saying, "We are sorry and deeply regret the pain, suffering and alienation that so many experienced" at the residential schools. The TRC call to action had called for the pope to make a public apology on Canadian soil.

Bolen said he and others in the Catholic Church will continue to reach out to the Indigenous community and make amends for the damage caused.

Reconciliation still church's top priority: Bishop

"We're not shying away from that here. I would say that our work with Indigenous people is our number one pastoral priority in the church here," Bolen said.

Saskatoon Diocese Bishop Mark Hagemoen agreed.

"I too regret that Pope Francis is not coming at this time," Hagemoen said in a written statement.

"Our Indigenous communities are highlighting the need for concrete actions and positive relationships to accompany the many words and expressions of commitment."

The Catholic Church ran more of Canada's residential schools than any other church. More than 150,000 students attended the schools, which first opened in the 1870s, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Saskatchewan had more students and more schools per capita than any other province.

Author: Jason Warick

Pope Francis

Pope Francis