Pope Francis arrives in Canada on a journey of penance

Pope Francis, 85, has arrived in Edmonton, western Canada, to begin the first of three stages of his journey. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis Arrived this Sunday Canada For a “journey of repentance” during which he apologizes to the original survivors of abuses committed in the boarding schools she runs catholic church.

The 85-year-old Argentine pope has arrived in Edmonton, western Canada, to begin the first of three stages on his journey. He was greeted, upon leaving the plane, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Inuit Marie Simon, a representative of Queen Isabel II.

As Francis will speak to Quebec and Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut province, a city in the north of the country, on the Arctic archipelago, before returning on Friday.

before leaving from RomeThe Pope sent a message via Twitter to his “dear brothers and sisters in Canada”.

“I have come among you to meet indigenous peoples. I hope, by the grace of God, that the pilgrimage of repentance will contribute to the path of reconciliation that has already begun. Please join me in prayer.”

What does the journey of atonement mean?

On the plane, he insisted to reporters about the destructive nature of his visit, dedicated primarily to the indigenous Amerindian population who today represents 5% of the population. Canada Those who identify themselves in three groups: First Nations, Metis, and Inuit.

These were subjected for decades to a policy of forced assimilation, primarily through the children’s pension system, supported by the state but mostly run by the church.

About 150,000 Aboriginal children were enrolled from the late 19th century to the 1990s in 139 boarding schools, where they spent months or years isolated from their families, language, and culture.

Many were subjected to physical and sexual abuse by principals and teachers and as many as 6,000 died from disease, malnutrition or neglect.

Canada is gradually opening its eyes to a past that a national commission of inquiry called “cultural genocide”.

Too late?

“This historic visit is an important part of the recovery journey,” he said Thursday, but “there is still a lot to do.” George Arcand Jr.the senior president of the Federation of First Nations, Treaty No. 6, in Edmonton.

The Argentine Pope, who intends to repeat the apologies made in Rome For the Canadian delegations that visited him in April, he could also perform some symbolic gestures, such as returning original pieces of art kept in the Vatican for decades.

Sunday morning city Edmontonin which he met many survivors of pensioners, was preparing to welcome FrancisOn Saturday, he had to use a lift platform to board his plane in a wheelchair.

With more than ten flying hours, this is the longest trip the Pope has made since 2019.

Pope Francis will meet the indigenous people of Canada

After a day off on Sunday, Francisco He will meet for the first time with members of the indigenous population on Monday morning in Maskwacis, Alberta, about one hundred kilometers south of Edmonton, where a population of 15,000 is expected.

Alberta was the province with the largest number of boarding schools.

“I would like a lot of people to come” so that they “realize that nothing has been invented,” Charlotte Rowan, 44, a resident of the slum told AFP.

Others take a sad look at this visit. “For me, it is too late because a lot of people have suffered,” laments Linda McGilveri, 68, who lives on the outskirts of St. Paul (200 kilometers east of Edmonton), who spent eight years of his childhood in a boarding school.

“I’ve lost a lot of my culture, from my ancestors,” laments this woman from Saddle Lake Cree Nation who won’t be going to see the Pope.

On Monday afternoon, the spiritual leader of 1.3 billion Catholics is scheduled to deliver the second address at the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples in Edmonton.

On Tuesday he will celebrate mass at Edmonton Stadium where some 65,000 people are expected to attend, before heading to Lake St Anne, the main annual pilgrimage site, where he will meet former students from the residential school, before returning to Rome. .

In total, Francis will give four speeches and four homily, all in Spanish

Francis is the second pope to visit Canada after that John Paul II.

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