Pope Francis Meets with Group of 1st Nations from Canada who Ask for him to Come to Canada and Apologize
Pope Pope Francis met with a group of about 20 representatives of Canada’s First Nations peoples on Thursday March 31st, 2022. He met with representatives of the Inuit and Métis peoples on March 28th. On Friday, April 1st, the Holy Father will receive all three groups together in a public audience.
According to Vatican News, there was an “atmosphere of listening and closeness” during the meeting on Thursday. The group was accompanied by several Canadian bishops. It was the Pope’s third visit with delegations of indigenous Canadians, after meeting with Mètis and Inuit peoples in separate audiences.
First Nations delegates dressed in traditional attire met with members of the press outside St Peter's Square discuss their experience. “It’s a special day," said Regional Chief Gerald Antonie, the delegation lead, noting that Pope Francis had listened attentively to their words. “The things that happened to us should never have ever happened…” he continued, adding “We’re here to tell you the truth.” His words were also marked by pain for the past, for the abuses that took place, for the many victims of the so-called residential schools. Last summer there was a discovery of mass graves at the locations of several of the schools.
The residential school system was organized by the Canadian government and implemented in cooperation with Christian churches, with a many of the schools operated by the Catholic Church.
Chief Antoine said it is necessary to hear the voices of indigenous people, who can speak the truth about the earth, which must be protected. So, he continued, we must all “work together because we don't have much time left.” "It is never too late"
Rome Reports reported that residential school survivor, Phil Fontaine said, Our preference is for the Holy Father to come to Canada, apologize on Canadian soil, and do it on one of our territories. That is our hope and wish, and we made that very clear to the Holy Father.
A member of the Inuit delegation, Martha Greig, a survivor of the residential schools, said she told the Pope that people need healing. She said, “I invited him to come to Canada,” adding, “it would mean a lot to the former residents and their families.” A papal trip has been announced but not yet confirmed.