Pope Francis apologized on Monday For the “evil” caused by the indigenous people of Canada The first day of a visit focused on addressing decades of abuse in Catholic institutions.
The repentance of the supreme saint of 1.3 billion Catholics was greeted with applause First Nations, Métis and Inuit people gathered in MaskavasisIn the Western Province of Alberta, where indigenous children were taken from their families and considered “cultural genocide”.
“The way many members of the Church and religious communities cooperated, also through indifference, I apologize Projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilationSaid the 85-year-old Pope, who sat down and read his message.
“Policies of assimilation and dissolution, including” The system of residential schools was disastrous for the people of these lands.“, he admitted.
When they spoke, the sentiment of the people present in the Maskawasis, an indigenous community south of Edmonton, the capital of the province of Alberta, that hosted the Erminskin residential school from 1895 to 1975, was evident.
The event was attended by hundreds of people in traditional dress, along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the country’s first indigenous governor-general, Mary Simon.
Many lowered their eyes, wiped away tears, or bowed down and hugged the people next to them. Indigenous leaders presented and placed a traditional feathered headdress to the Pope.
Francisco referred to the “physical, psychological and spiritual abuse” suffered by the children, saying, “where we find ourselves echoing the scream of pain, a suffocating scream that accompanies me during these months.”
Several counselors were set up on site to provide emotional support. Not long ago, volunteers gave away small paper bags to “collect tears”.
you cry love
Before the Pope’s address André Carrier of the Manitoba Métis Federation explained, “First Nations believe that if you cry, you cry love, you save the tears on a piece of paper and put them back. Put it in this bag.”
Volunteers would collect the bags and then burn them with a special prayer “to return the tears of love to the Creator.”
From the late 19th century to the early 1990s, the Canadian government sent 150,000 children to 139 church-run boarding schools, where they were separated from their families, language and culture.
Many suffered physical and sexual abuse by headmasters and teachers, and thousands are believed to have died from disease, malnutrition or neglect.
A delegation of indigenous people traveled to the Vatican in April and met with the Pope, who formally apologized for the past.
But apologizing on Canadian soil holds great significance for the survivors and their families to whom the lands of their ancestors are of special importance.
Francis later made his way to the First People’s Sacred Heart Church in Edmonton, where he gave another speech.
“I can only imagine the effort (…) to think of a reconciliation,” he said.
“Nothing can ever remove the breach of dignity, the experience of evil, the betrayal of trust. Or as believers, take away our own shame,” he said.
From May 2021 onwards, to Canada’s shock and acceptance of a dark past, over 1,300 unidentified graves On the sites of pre-schools.
The Canadian government awarded millions of dollars in compensation to alumni and officially forgave itself for creating these schools 14 years ago to “kill the indigenous in the heart of the child”.
The Anglican Church also apologized after the government. But the Catholic Church, in charge of more than 60% of these schools, had not done so until now.
Canada is slowly opening its eyes This past has been described as a “cultural genocide” by a National Commission of Inquiry., The discovery of more than 1,300 anonymous graves near these centers in 2021 caused a wave of disapproval.
The long-awaited, six-day papal visit sparks hope among some of the survivors and their families. Many also expect symbolic gestures, such as Restoration of indigenous art objects preserved in the Vatican for decades.
On Tuesday, the Pope will celebrate mass at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, where some 65,000 people are expected, before heading to Lake Sainte-Anne, a major annual pilgrimage site.
On Wednesday, he will visit Quebec City before the final leg of the trip, on Friday in Iqaluit (Nunavut), a city in northern Canada in the Arctic Archipelago.
weak from knee pain, The Argentine Jesuit appeared in a wheelchair on Sunday but smiled as he arrived in Edmonton, According to the organisers, his agenda was adjusted to avoid major displacement due to his health condition.