'A long time coming': Saskatchewan’s look at the now-rejected Doctrine of Discovery
After demands stretched for years and years, the formally repudiated “Doctrine of Discovery,” has been officially rejected by the Vatican.
In Saskatchewan, the news spread quickly, with Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron calling it “a long time coming.”
“It gives us more solid, concrete evidence that the lands, waters and resources never belonged to the federal government, nor the provincial government — they belong to our First Nation people,” Cameron told CTV News Thursday morning.
A Vatican statement Thursday morning said the 15th-century papal bulls, or decrees, “did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of indigenous peoples” and have been rather considered expressions of the Catholic faith.
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Regina Donald Bolen said the Vatican had reversed its position back in 1537 after it received word how the Indigenous populations were suffering, were marginalized and oppressed.
“The Vatican stated strongly at that point, that Indigenous peoples have rights, whether they are Christian or not, have rights to their land, and should not be taken away. And so from the Church's perspective, these political statements have been revoked a long, long time ago — but we heard the request to make that very clear. I think that's what this statement does,” Bolen said.
So, what comes next?
Chief Cameron said there are multiple options FSIN will look towards, which will also include the opinions of individual nations themselves.
“Obviously, some of them are going to be [dealing with] lands and resources, and our animals as well … the fact that the archives and the artifacts are still in the Vatican, for those to be returned, and for those survivors who weren’t properly compensated, and even those who haven’t been compensated [to be compensated] … we’re going to continue to push,” said Cameron.
He said there were many emotions this morning, including tears throughout the FSIN Thursday.
“We have remained consistent, we have remained vocal in our position against the Vatican,” he said. “There were many that felt satisfaction … there were many that prayed, in the end, we’re going to continue to do what we can, to do anything we can, to support those survivors, descendants and all those families,” he said.
Looking to the future, Bolen explained the next steps for the Church.
“[To] really to work on a local level and build relations with First Nations communities. Trying to prove ourselves a trustworthy ally, listening deeply to their concerns and their needs and finding out where we can be an ally in that pursuit of justice,” the Archbishop said.
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