Lake “Wakamane”, the Lake of God, named after the Alexis Nakota Sioux or Lake of the Spirits as the Cree know it, and now in Santa Ana, Alberta, Canada, is the site of the original people and current location. is a holy place. For the pilgrimage of Catholics, Pope Francis arrived today in a ceremony filled with symbolism.
On his third day in Canada, where he traveled to apologize to indigenous peoples for abuses at boarding schools run by the Catholic Church, Francis went to this idyllic lake named Santa Ana after Jean-Baptiste Thibault, who founded The first priests were Catholic. A mission on this site.
In a wheelchair, because of his knee problems that prevented him from walking, the Pope arrived at a small pier and there he gave a special blessing to the waters of the lake and that the native people understood very well: the east direction. Looking in began its blessing from four key points, as indigenous people traditionally prayed while following the path of the sun.
Escorted by Alexis Nakota Sioux and Cree chiefs and always in a wheelchair, Francisco traveled the streets of the place.
Terrible Effects of Colonization
And then before several hundred loyalists, most of them indigenous, Francis once again denounced the “terrifying effects of colonization”, which in Canada meant, among other things, 150,000 indigenous children separated from their families. And boarding schools were closed so that they “assimilated” the new culture.
“In this blessed place, where harmony and peace reign, we present to you the anomalies of our history, the horrific effects of colonialism, the indelible pain of so many families, grandparents and children,” Francis said.
For this reason, today Jesus’ grandmother, Santa Ana, asks grandmothers to “help heal the wounds created in these marginalized years.”
“Yes, because mother and grandmother help heal wounds of the heart. During the play of Victory, it was Our Lady of Guadalupe who transmitted honest faith to the indigenous people, speaking their language and wearing their costumes, without violence And without imposition,” he said.
Although Francis acknowledged the evil that many men in the Church did during the colonization of America, he also exposed the goodness that many missionaries did today.
“And, shortly after, with the advent of the printing press, the first grammars and catechisms in indigenous languages were published. In many parts missionaries preaching authentically to preserve indigenous languages and cultures in this regard How well done. of the world!”, he insisted.
Sacred Lake of Indigenous Peoples
According to the oral history of Alexis, a charismatic Nakota chief from the southeast, he followed a vision and moved his people to the shores of the sacred Lake Wakamane to live, long before the arrival of European fur traders and settlers.
It was Father Joseph Lestanc who organized the first annual pilgrimage to “St. Anne” on July 26, 1889, and he chose this date because it was the feast of Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus, and because This figure was a very strong significance of the grandmother in indigenous culture.
Currently, approximately 4,000 people camp at the site each day and 40,000 pilgrims participate in weekly events. Indigenous peoples including Cree, Dene, Blackfoot and Metis flock to this lake, which is an important place of social, cultural and spiritual rejuvenation for them.
In addition, indigenous people assure that the water of this lake has sacred healing properties, which is why it attracts many people to its shores.
Also today, as in the whole tour, the traditional sound of the drums of the indigenous peoples who welcomed the Pope to their traditional land and the composer Eugene Alexis sang a song of their ancestors.
Chief Alexis obtained an image of this lake in a dream or vision, the place where he was going to bring his people, and knew that they had reached this place when he heard the words of the song whispered in the treetops above. . They surrounded the lake. Today the Pope also listened to him.