Indigenous representatives at Edmonton, Alberta, airport, Francis kisses the hand of a residential school survivor when welcomed by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and my SimonAn Inuk who is Canada’s first indigenous governor general.
whose gesture set the tone Francis Said is an “atonement pilgrimage” to atone for the role of Catholic missionaries in forcibly assimilating generations of native children – a journey that has stirred mixed feelings across Canada as survivors and their families mourn their loss. suffered the trauma of and received the long-sought papal pardon.
Francis had no official schedule scheduled for Sunday, giving him time to rest before his meeting on Monday with survivors near the site of a former residential school in Maskavasis, where he was asked to pray and apologize at the cemetery. is expected.
Francis exited the rear of his plane with the help of an ambulift, as ligaments in his knee forced him to use a wheelchair. The simple reception took place at the airport hangar, where native drums and chants broke the silence. As Trudeau and Simon sat beside Francis, a succession of indigenous leaders and elders greeted the Pope and exchanged gifts. At one point, Francis kisses the hand of Frog Lake First Nations residential school survivor Elder Alma Desjarlis as she was introduced to him.
“Right now, many of our people are skeptical and they are hurt,” said George Arcand Jr., Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations, who congratulated the pope. Yet he expressed hope that with the Pope’s apology, “we can begin our journey of healing .. and change the way things have been for our people for many, many years.”
Indigenous groups are looking for more than just words, however, as they push for access to church archives to learn the fate of children who never return home from residential schools. They also want justice for the abusers, financial compensation and the return of indigenous artifacts held by them. Vatican archive.
House of First Nations National Chief Roseanne Archibald, one of the country’s most prominent Indigenous leaders, said many members of her family attended residential schools, including a sister who died in one in Ontario. She described it as an “institution of assimilation and genocide”.
During my fight with Alberta, “I was very out of emotions and there were different times on the plane where I really had to stop myself from taking a deep sob,” she said. “I realized that I am an intergenerational trauma survivor and that there are a lot of people like me.”
Francis’ week-long trip – which will take him to Edmonton; Iqaluit, Nunavut in Quebec City and finally the far north – follows meetings held in the spring at the Vatican with delegations from the First Nations, Métis and Inuit. Those meetings culminated with an April 1 historic apology for the “disappointing” abuses committed by some Catholic missionaries in residential schools.
The Canadian government has acknowledged that physical and sexual abuse was widespread in state-funded Christian schools that operated from the 19th century to the 1970s. About 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to part ways in an effort to isolate them from the influence of their homes, native languages and cultures, and assimilate them into Canadian Christian society.
then prime minister Stephen Harper In 2008 issued a formal apology for residential schools. As part of a settlement of the lawsuit involving the government, churches and approximately 90,000 surviving students, Canada paid compensation that amounted to billions of dollars being transferred to indigenous communities. The Catholic Church of Canada says its diocese and religious orders have provided more than $50 million in cash and in-kind contributions, and is expected to add another $30 million over the next five years.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for an apology from the pope on Canadian soil in 2015, but it was only in 2021 that the Vatican campaigned for it after the discovery of the possible remains of nearly 200 children at a former Kamloops residential school in British Columbia. . Follow up on request.
“I honestly believe that if it weren’t for the discovery … and all the spotlight that was placed on the Oblates or even the Catholic Church, I don’t think any of this would have happened,” he said. Raymond FrognerChief archivist at the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation.
Frogner had just returned from Rome, where he spent five days at the headquarters of the Missionary Oblates of Mary the Immaculate, which operated 48 of the 139 Christian-run residential schools, the most of any Catholic order. After the tombs were discovered, the Oblates eventually offered “full transparency and accountability” and allowed them to research the names of alleged sexual abusers from a school in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan at their headquarters, he said.
The Inuit community, for its part, is seeking Vatican assistance to extradite a single oblate priest, Rev. Jones Rivoire, who served Inuit communities in the 1990s and returned to France. Canadian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him in 1998 on multiple counts of sexual abuse, but it was never executed.
Inuit leader Natan Obed personally sought the Vatican’s help with Francis’ extradition to Rivoire, telling the Associated Press in March that it was a specific thing the Vatican could do to recover many of its victims.
When asked about the request, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said last week that he had no knowledge of the matter.
At a news conference in Edmonton on Saturday, organizers said they would do everything they could to enable school survivors to attend papal events, in particular for the Masquess pardon and Tuesday’s gathering in Lac Ste. Anne has long been a popular pilgrimage site for indigenous Catholics.
Both are in rural areas, and organizers are arranging shuttle transportation to and from various park-and-ride lots. He notes that many survivors are now elderly and frail and may need accessible vehicular transportation, diabetes-friendly snacks and other services.
The Rev. Cristino Bouvet, the national liturgical coordinator for the Pope’s visit, which is partly of indigenous heritage, said he hoped the visit is healing for those who have suffered “a wound, a cross that they have suffered.” , in some cases for generations.”
Bouvet, a priest in the Diocese of Calgary, said the pope would have strong indigenous representation at religious events – including prominent roles for indigenous clergy and the use of native languages, music and motifs on liturgical costumes.
Bouvet said he was doing this in honor of his “kokum,” the Cree word for grandmother, who spent 12 years at a residential school in Edmonton. She “might never have imagined after many years that her grandson would be involved in this work.”