Ready to forgive and heal is how Terry Paul describes himself following a spiritually moving visit to Vatican City.
Paul recently traveled to the Vatican to meet with Pope Benedict as part of a delegation of former native Canadian students who were victims of abuse in church-run boarding schools.
During the meeting, the leader of the Catholic church said he sympathized with their anguish and prayed they would heal.
“I was certainly very glad to be part of the group,” said the elected band chief of the First Nation reserve, Membertou.
“It was a fantastic experience. I felt that he was very sincere.”
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Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, was one of the few from the delegation to meet privately with the Pope.
Following that meeting, Fontaine offered advice to Paul and others within the group.
“I take to heart what he had to say to us and that was ‘in order to heal, you have to forgive’ and that is what I felt I did. We are no longer going to look at ourselves as victims and start to live, but we need the co-operation of all levels of government and from the people in this country. They can change things.”