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Pope visits Canada to mend fences with Indigenous communities | Indigenous Rights News


Pope Francis will arrive in Canada on Sunday to begin a cross-country trip seeking atonement for the devastation the Catholic Church has inflicted on indigenous people attending Indian Residential Schools. Degree of abuse.

Following the historic apology the pope made to Indigenous delegates and survivors of Rome’s notorious schools in April, the Roman Catholic pontiff announced his desire to “meet and welcome you.” receive” the Indigenous community.

He say “Unfortunately, in Canada, many Christians, including some members of religious academies, have contributed to policies of assimilation that have, in the past, severely damaged communities. indigenous communities in many different ways.”

The Pope’s mission follows invitations he has received from the Church and civil authorities in Canada, and from the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples of Canada.

The Catholic Church oversees about 60 percent of the 139 federally mandated residential schools designed to integrate Indigenous children into mainstream Canadian culture. More than 150,000 Indigenous children attended the schools from the late 1800s until 1997, when the last school closed.

Abuse is popular and indigenous languages ​​and cultural practices are prohibited. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) has documented the deaths of more than 6,000 children in residential schools. Not all deaths listed in the registry include burial records. But since 2017, the unmarked graves of thousands of Indigenous children have been discovered on the former grounds of residential schools across the country, and searches continue.

On Monday, the first day of his trip, the Holy Father will visit the former site of the Ermineskin Boarding School in Maskwacis, Alberta, about 100km (62 miles) south of Edmonton. NCTRC has recorded 15 child deaths while attending school. However, Maskwacis leadership began searching for the unmarked graves last year using ground-penetrating radar and has yet to release its search results.

In a statement, the Maskwacis Tribal Council representing the four First Nations locally emphasized the importance of the visit.

“This is an important time for the world to witness and understand the impact of the intergenerational traumas suffered by Indigenous peoples in residential school systems in Canada and around the world.” it said. “This is an important step towards reconciliation so that everyone is a part of each other.”

Later on Monday, the Holy Father will meet with Indigenous peoples and members of the parish community of the Church of the Sacred Heart of First Peoples in Edmonton, Alberta.

On Tuesday, the Pope will hold an open Mass at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium and then head to the Lac Ste Anne Pilgrimage, an annual event that attracts thousands of Indigenous people from around throughout Canada and the United States.

Rod Alexis, an elder and residential school survivor from nearby Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, told a press conference on July 21 that the process of healing and reconciliation with the Catholic Church will be difficult, but necessary.

“We see so many of our young people today dying from drugs, alcohol, the effects of trauma they have gone through,” says Alexis. “The only way we are going to deal with this is to go back to our teachings. To have reconciliation, you must have peace within yourself. “

He went on to thank the pope for coming to Canada, noting that the pope “carries the burden of the Catholic faith” but that there are “so many others, this journey is part of its religion, but we must also heal. in other fields. This is what this country needs.”

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves as he leads Angelus’ prayer from his window, at the Vatican July 3, 2022 [Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters]

However, in one day July 22 New information postedFirst Nations Council leader Roseanne Archibald and Regional Chief Gerald Antoine expressed concern that community members and survivors are being “re-victimized in this unilateral process”.

They wrote: “Our staff have reported to us a form of contempt by the organizers of the Pope’s visit when it comes to the planning and important decision-making regarding the Pope’s journey. Pope.

“This has evolved to benefit more Canadian Catholics and the global Christian community and less about actual moves to compensate and reconcile with the First Nation community that has been lost. harmed by assimilation and genocidal institutions”.

They stressed that the apology to be expected on Indigenous lands represents a “great moment for us and can help ease our collective collective pain behind our backs. What we need to do then is to acknowledge it together and work together in a spirit of true collaboration on the path to healing ahead. “

Next, the Pope is scheduled to visit Quebec City on July 27, where he will meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor-General Mary Simon, and then give a public address.

On July 28, the Pope is expected to travel to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre to attend a mass. Between 10,000 and 15,000 guests are expected to attend.

The Archbishop of Quebec, Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, said: “The pope is looking forward to coming here. “Despite his limited health, he will be fully present with us to take this next step in reconciliation and healing with the Indigenous Peoples of our country.”

On the final leg of his visit, Pope Francis is scheduled to meet Indigenous leaders from Eastern Canada on July 29 before flying to Iqaluit. There, Francis will have a private meeting with residential school survivors and attend a public community event.



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