EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada — Pope Francis kicked off his historic visit to Canada on Sunday, apologizing to indigenous peoples for mistreatment by missionaries at boarding schools. This is an important step in the Catholic Church’s efforts to reconcile with indigenous communities and help them heal from generational trauma.
Frances kisses the hands of a boarding school survivor who was greeted at the airport in Edmonton, Alberta by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a representative of the Indigenous Peoples, and Inuk Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous governor. Did.
This gesture set the tone for what Francis said. This is a “pilgrimage of repentance” to redeem the role of Catholic missionaries in the forced assimilation of generations of native children. receive the trauma of their loss and the long-sought papal apology.
Francis didn’t have the official event scheduled for Sunday, giving him time to rest before meeting with survivors near Muskwatis’ former boarding school on Monday, where he will pray and apologize at the cemetery. It is expected that
Francis got off the back of the plane with the help of an ambulance because he had strained knee ligaments and was forced to use a wheelchair. A simple welcome ceremony took place in an airport hangar, with indigenous drums and chants breaking the silence. As Trudeau and Simon sat beside Francisco, indigenous leaders and elders greeted the pope and exchanged gifts. At one point, Frances meets Frog Lake, a boarding school survivor, in his First Alma of His Nations.
“A lot of us are skeptical at the moment, and they’re hurt,” said George Arcand Jr., president of the Treaty Six Indigenous Peoples Union, who greeted the Pope. Yet he expressed his hope that with the Pope’s apology, “we can begin a healing journey .. and change the way our people are for years to come.” did.
But indigenous groups want more than just words, as they seek access to church archives to learn the fate of children who never made it home from boarding school. We want justice, monetary restitution and the return of the indigenous artefacts in the Vatican Museums collection.
First Nations National Chief Roseanne Archibald is one of the country’s most prominent Indigenous leaders, and several members of her family attend boarding schools, including one from Ontario. He said he died at a school. She described it as “an institution of assimilation and genocide.”
“There were a few times when I was overwhelmed with emotion and really had to stop deep sobbing on the plane,” she said during the fight against Alberta. As a long-term trauma survivor, I realized that there are many people like me.”
Photo by Ricardo De Luca/AP
Francis’ 1-week trip — going to Edmonton. Quebec City, and finally Iqaluit in the far north of Nunavut — follows a conference he held at the Vatican in the spring with delegations from the Indigenous Peoples, Métis and Inuit. These meetings culminated in a historic April 1st apology for the “deplorable” abuses committed by some Catholic missionaries at the boarding school.
The Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was widespread at state-run Christian schools that operated from the 19th century to the 1970s. Approximately 150,000 Aboriginal children were separated from their families and forced to attend, isolating them from the influence of their homes, Aboriginal languages and cultures, and assimilating them into Canada’s Christian community.
Then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology for boarding schools in 2008. As part of a settlement of a lawsuit involving the government, the church and some 90,000 surviving students, Canada paid out billions of dollars in reparations and relocated to indigenous communities. The Catholic Church of Canada says its dioceses and congregations have provided her with more than $50 million in cash and in-kind donations and hopes to add another $30 million over the next five years.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission had called for the Pope’s apology to be made domestically in 2015, but in 2021, after the bodies of about 200 children were found at the former Kamloops boarding school in British Columbia, the Vatican mobilized. I will respond to your request.
“I don’t think any of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for the discoveries… and the spotlight on the oblates and the Catholic Church,” said Raymond Frogner of the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation. Chief Archivist.
Frogner had just returned from Rome and had spent five days at the headquarters of Our Lady Immaculate Missionary Obraz. The headquarters runs 48 of the 139 Christian-run boarding schools, the most of any Catholic denomination. After the grave was discovered, Obrates finally offered “complete transparency and accountability” to investigate the name of a single school sexual abuse suspect in Saskatchewan, western Canada. I allowed him to enter the headquarters.
Meanwhile, the Inuit community is seeking the Vatican’s help to extradite one oblate priest, Reverend Joanse Rivoire, who served the Inuit community until he left and returned to France in the 1990s. Canadian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him on multiple sexual abuse charges in 1998, but it has never been served.
Inuit leader Nathan Obed has personally asked Francisco for the Vatican’s assistance in the extradition of Rivoire, one of the concrete things the Vatican can do to bring healing to his many victims. There is, he told the Associated Press in March.
Asked about the request last week, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said he had no information on the matter.
At a press conference in Edmonton on Saturday, organizers said they would do everything they could to ensure that school survivors could attend the Pope’s events, particularly the Muskwasis apology and Tuesday’s rally in Laxte. It has long been a popular pilgrimage site for indigenous Catholics.
Both are in rural areas and the organizers arrange shuttle transport from various park-and-ride lots. , and other services may be required.
Reverend Cristino Bouvet, National Liturgical Coordinator of the Pope’s Visit, said that it is part of the Indigenous heritage and that the visit will help “the wounded, in some cases the cross-bearers who have suffered for generations.” I hope that it will be a healing for . .”
Mr. Bouvette, a priest of the diocese of Calgary, said the papal liturgy included strong indigenous representatives, including the important role of indigenous clergy and the use of indigenous language, music and liturgical motifs. said to participate.
Bouvette said she does the work in honor of her “kokum,” the Cree word for grandmother, who spent 12 years at a boarding school in Edmonton. “She probably never imagined that her grandchildren would be in this business years later,” she said.