Edmonton, Canada – Pope Francis began a historic trip to Canada on Sunday to apologize to indigenous peoples for mistreatment by missionaries at Catholic boarding schools, as a way for the Church to reconcile and help with local communities. An important step in the effort.
Francisco kisses the hand of a victim of abuse at one of the boarding schools when he was received by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mary Simon, an Inuk, at the airport in Edmonton in the province of Alberta, by indigenous representatives. was received. Canada’s first indigenous woman governor general.
The gesture, for what the pontiff has called, is an “atonement pilgrimage” to atone for the role played by Catholic missionaries in the forced integration of generations of indigenous children into Canadian culture, a journey that has inspired sentiments across Canada. mixed bags, as victims and their families cope with the trauma of their loss and receive the long-sought papal apology.
The pontiff had no official schedule scheduled for Sunday, which would give him time to rest before his Monday meeting with the victims near a former boarding school in the town of Maskovice, where he is expected to pray and apologize at the cemetery. Is performed.
Francisco ejected from the rear of the plane with the help of an ambulift vehicle, as he suffers from swelling of a knee ligament and is forced to use a wheelchair. The simple reception took place in an airport hangar, where native drums and chants broke the silence. As Trudeau and Simon sat next to the Pope, several indigenous leaders and elders greeted them and exchanged gifts. At one point, the pontiff kissed the hand of Elma Desjarlais, a member of the First Lake Indian Nation and victim of boarding school abuse, when she was introduced to him.
“At this time, many of our people are skeptical and hurt,” said George Arcand Jr., Grand Chief of the Sixth Confederation of First Nations, who congratulated the pope. However, he expressed hope that, with the Pope’s apology, “we can begin our journey to heal … and change the way things have been for our people for many, many years.” “
Indigenous groups, however, are seeking more than just words, and have insisted on access to church archives to learn the fate of children who never returned home from boarding schools. They also want punishment for abusers, financial compensation for victims, and the return of indigenous artifacts held by the Vatican museums.
Roseanne Archibald, the national head of the First Nations Assembly, said several members of her family attended boarding schools, including a sister who died in one in the province of Ontario. He said it was “the institution of integration and genocide.”
Pope Francis said that these tragedies should not happen again.
During the flight to Alberta, “I was overwhelmed with emotion, and there were moments on the plane where I really had to try to stop bursting into tears,” she said. “I realized that I am a victim of intergenerational trauma and that there are many people like me.”
Francisco’s week-long trip – in which he will visit Edmonton; Quebec City and finally the city of Iqaluit in the province of Nunavut in the north of Canada – are followed by meetings held at the Vatican at the beginning of the year with delegations from the Native Nations, Métis and K. Inuit. Those interviews culminated in a historic apology on April 1 for the “reprehensible” abuses committed by some Catholic missionaries in boarding schools.