Indigenous leaders are giving mixed reactions to the visit planned this summer by Pope Francis, with some welcoming the Pope’s trip to Canada while others are disappointed that he will not travel to certain parts of the country.
Vatican announced on Friday The Pope will stop in Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut from July 24-29.
The news comes over a month later I apologize for the role of the Catholic Church in the Canadian residential school system He promised to travel to the country.
Prior to this, he met privately with delegates of First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and residential school survivors. The original delegates also told the Pope that they expected him to make an apology on Canadian soil.
While some say they hope the Pope’s visit will be a step toward reconciliation, others are disappointed that he won’t be traveling to provinces like Saskatchewan, where many of Canada’s boarding schools are located.
“We had hope and prayers that he would come and make an apology at one of our residential school sites,” President Bobby Cameron of the Aboriginal Confederation, which represents 74 countries in Saskatchewan, told CTV’s Power Play on Friday. .
“Within one of our treaty lands, in one of our first nations, where it will, obviously, have a tangible impact on survivors, descendants, and families,”
Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, who is the trip’s general coordinator, said the pope, who is 85, is limited in how he can travel.
The Pope cannot ride in helicopters or stay in a vehicle for more than an hour, and must rest between events.
“In all honesty, when all is said and done, the action elements are most important in the healing journey,” Cameron said.
This includes the immediate return of Indigenous artifacts and cultural records kept in the Vatican, the construction of treatment and wellness centers on former residential school sites, as well as for those who committed crimes in boarding schools “to bring them to justice,” he said. .
Meanwhile, Manitoba Métis Federation President David Chartrand, He told CTV News Winnipeg He’s frustrated that the Pope won’t stop in Winnipeg, either.
Separate delegation in Manitoba Metis The Pope met separately After apologizing.
“It was a disappointment in my heart and all the red Metis…for our nation,” said Chartrand.
More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were mostly forced from their families to attend boarding schools from the late 19th century to 1996.
The purpose of the institutions was to replace the indigenous language and culture with English and Christian beliefs.
Churches and religious organizations run and funded by the federal government have largely run these institutions.
Senior President Remy Vincent of Huron Windat Nation in Windake, Kew, said Friday’s announcement was relatively well received.
“We should expect nothing less from the Church than to come to our lands here, in Quebec and Canada, to apologize to First Nations for the atrocities that have been committed and exposed in recent years,” he said.
Senior President George Arcand of the Sixth Treaty First Nations confederation, who is working with the Holy See to plan the Pope’s station in Alberta, said he understands the impact of the visit on survivors, their families and communities.
Edmonton, one of the cities the Pope plans to visit, is part of Treaty Territory 6, which spans central Alberta and Saskatchewan.
“I hope that we are on the path to recovery and that the facts of the survivors will be validated with this historic visit to our lands,” Arcand said.
The Federation of Indian Chiefs of British Columbia called for the trip to include the site of the former Kamloops Residential School, where potential graves were discovered nearly a year ago.
Multiple discoveries of unknown tombs They have occurred on former residential school sites since then.
President Rosanne Casimir of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation said it’s a missed opportunity for the Pope to hear firsthand from survivors of the former Kamloops Residential School.
“While we understand the vastness of Canada and the need to make the journey to Canada easy for him, it is truly unfortunate that he will not have the opportunity to come to Kamloops Residential School, the largest residential school in the country run by Catholics,” Casimir said.
“(Survivors) need to witness a genuine and meaningful apology from the highest levels, from the Pope himself.”
Speaking to reporters in French on Friday, Crown and Indigenous Relations Minister Mark Miller welcomed the Pope’s planned visit as an opportunity to speak to survivors.
With files from CTV News Winnipeg and the Canadian Press
If you are a former student of a residential school in trouble, or affected by the residential school system and need assistance, you can call the Indian Residential Schools’ 24-hour crisis line at 1-866-925-4419, or the Indian Residential School Survivors Association toll-free: 0066-721-800-1.
Additional Indigenous Mental Health Support and Resources Available here.