The visit comes after Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in the abuse of indigenous children from July 24 to 30.
WARNING: The story below contains descriptions of residential schools that can be disturbing. The Indian Residential School of Canada is available 24 hours a day at Survivors and Family Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419.
Pope Francis will travel to Canada at the end of July, the Vatican has announced, as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church is expected to meet indigenous people who have been abused in so-called residential schools.
The 85-year-old will travel to Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit, the Vatican said on Friday, adding that more details on the trip from July 24 to 30 will be published in the coming weeks.
The announcement comes after the Pope last month apologized for abuses committed by church members against indigenous children in residential schools.
Speaking to Indigenous representatives at the Vatican, Pope Francis said he felt “pain and shame” for the role Catholics played in the many harms caused to indigenous children while attending institutions of forced assimilation.
“For the reprehensible conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask God for forgiveness and I want to say with all my heart, I am very sorry. And I ask your forgiveness along with my brothers, the Bishops of Canada,” he said. said.
Between the 1800s and 1990s, Canada forced more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children to attend residential schools. Children were stripped of their language and culture, separated from siblings and subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse.
Thousands are believed to have died while attending institutions, most of which were run by the Roman Catholic Church. A federal commission of inquiry into residential schools in Canada, known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), concluded in 2015 that the system amounted to “cultural genocide”.
The discovery of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across Canada over the past year has prompted renewed calls for accountability – and an apology from the Catholic Church in particular.
Last month the Pope’s apology was welcomed by Indigenous leaders, but he called on him to go to Canada to grant an apology on Indigenous lands.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the head of the Roman Catholic Church “a formally personal apology” to survivors and their families is a move to advance meaningful reconciliation for indigenous peoples in our country. will be an important step.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that Edmonton is home to the second largest number of Indigenous peoples living in urban Canadian centres, and that approximately 25 residential schools were located in Alberta, the most of any province or territory in Canada.
Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, who is coordinating the papal visit on behalf of Canada’s bishops, said the pontiff would visit a former residential school site “and other places of importance”.
Quebec is home to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, one of North America’s oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites, while Iqaluit, on the vast Baffin Island, is the capital of the Nunavut region, where many Inuit live.
Bishop Raymond Poisson said Canada’s bishop was “extremely grateful” the Pope would visit “to continue the journey of healing and reconciliation”.
Francis is expected to repeat his apology to the survivors of abuse at the school and to the victims’ relatives.