#BreakingNews WATCH Live Pope Francis in Canada Meeting with Indigenous at Maskwacis as a Step in Reconciliation

Meeting with Indigenous Peoples Bear Park Pow-Wow Grounds, Maskwacis, Canada, Meeting of Pope Francis with indigenous peoples, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit. Read more about this event below the video. 

FULL TEXT Pope Francis' Apology to Indigenous in Canada "I am sorry. I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the Church and religious communities cooperated..." + Video

Press Play button for audio and video in English of the Event:

  • Approximately 2,000 guests, almost all Survivors of residential or day schools, along with Elders, Knowledge Keepers and those accompanying them, will be seated inside the arbor.
    • Up to 4,000 guests can be seated in the ring outside the arbor, also reserved primarily for Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and those accompanying them. Additional open seating is also available beyond the outer ring if required.
    • Popemobile – it is expected that the Holy Father will use a Popemobile at the beginning of the Maskwacis event to visit the cemetery and former residential school site. There is a possibility he may also make a “Giro” (tour among the people) once he arrives at the arbor area. The Popemobile is a 2015 Jeep Wrangler and is always driven by a member of the Vatican security team.
    • In many communities throughout the country, sacred fires will burn throughout the Papal Visit in solidarity with all those gathered. The fires are used for moments of healing, prayer, gratitude and celebration.
    Official Commentary on Program at Maskwacis from PapalVisit.ca:
    Maskwacis is the first formal event on Pope Francis journey of healing, reconciliation and hope. In itself, this is unique considering the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics arrived on a Sunday. His first act was not to gather with the faithful for Mass but, rather to gather his strength to make this first stop, which signals the importance of why he has come to Canada - to encounter First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples on their traditional territories.
    Maskwacis is a Cree word, which means “bear hills”, a traditional name that has been applied to the territory previously referred to as Hobbema. Some years ago, in the interest of restoring the Cree language and culture, it was renamed and ecompasses four respective nations within Maskwacis, including Louis Bull, Montana, Samson and Ermineskin, which is where the Holy Father will arrive.
    Prior to the anticipated 10:00 a.m. arrival of the Holy Father, a program will have been ongoing in the arbor area of Maskwa Park. Emcee Dennis Lightning welcomes and introduces a number of program elements. Speakers will Stephanie Scott and Justice Marie Wilson, offering remarks on the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Report, the work of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the Memorial Banner project, a large banner that currently includes the names of more than 4,000 children from the National Student Memorial Register. These are students from residential schools across  Canada that died or never returned home.
    Archbishop Donald Bolen (Regina, SK) and a residential school survivor will discuss the importance of walking together on the road to healing and reconciliation. A short video on healing and reconciliation relating to former National Chief Phil Fontaine’s journey to Rome in 2009 to meet with Pope Benedict XVI will also be broadcast.
    (the following is done privately)
    The Holy Father will arrive at Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, a significant name that represents the pain that Mary endured over her life of witnessing the sufffering of her son, Jesus. In this way we see a parallel of the sadness that the Holy Father must feel knowing of the suffering that has taken place at residential and day schools across the country, having heard the stories of Survivors in Rome earlier this year.
    Inside the church he will be greeted by the Pastor of the community (Indigenous priest - Fr. Gary Laboucane) as well as the immediate previous pastor (Fr. Roger Rouleau). Present along with them are a small delegation of Elders and local parishioners, who are there to offer a traditional welcome to their territory.
    (Host broadcast coverage begins)
    The Pope will travel in either the popemobile or a smaller golf cart (both are available and he will decide which is used). He will be met by a hand drummer (Jerry Saddleback) who will be playing and singing in a traditional manner to accompany him to the entrance of Ermineskin cemetery.
    Here, the Holy Father will have some moments in silence to reflect and pray just inside the cemetery grounds. There are most certainly the remains of former residential school students buried in the cemetery along with others from the community. The graveyard includes marked and unmarked graves and is symbolic of the many burial grounds across this land that are home to those who attended residential schools, their family members and their loved ones.
    These moments will provide an opportunity for the pope to pray for those who have suffered and died, to reflect on the stories he heard from Survivors in Rome and to pray not just for those lost but those who continue to experience inter-generational trauma and suffering, their families and their loved ones. During his time of prayer, the drumming falls silent.
    After pausing at the cemetery, the pope moves to the site of the first building that once stood on these lands when a residential school was first established here. He will be just steps from the former Ermineksin Residential School, one of the largest in Canada. The site is remembered by the presence of five teepees, four of them representing each of the nations of this land (previously mentioned – Louis Bull, Samson, Montana and Ermineskin) and the fifth teepee serving as a symbol of the entrance to the school that once stood. In its place now is a teepee.
    This is something we will will see repeatedly over the next several days. Elements that remind us of the resilience of Indigenous people and their culture. This has remained and endured, despite the tragedy and sufffering they faced, their culture and traditions were stripped away.
    The Holy Father will pause at the site of the former residential school and acknowledge the site in a way that is personal and appropriate for him – it may be silence or quiet prayer. We may see Archbishop Richard Smith (General Coordinator of the visit), convey to the Holy Father a few brief words regarding the significance of the former school site.
    After leaving the site, having remembered what once stood there, and those who endured great suffering, the Holy Father makes his way by Popemobile/golf cart to a backstage area at what is known as the arbor of Bear Park (Muskwa Park). If there is a Giro (tour among the people) with the popemobile, it would take place prior to arriving at the arbor.
    This is a gathering area that is often used for a traditional pow wow.  Those already seated in this area have been watching the movements of the Holy Father on large screens.
    Most Indigenous First Nations territories have a similar space to this one, constructed in the shape of a circle, being a symbol of great relevance to Indigenous people: a sign of everlasting life, something that symbolizes unity with Creation and the whole universe.
    The Holy Father enters the south entrance of the arbor taking his place on stage as he prepares to witness a tremendous sight: that of the Grand Entry of the Chiefs.
    Present at Maskwacis on this day are many chiefs representing nations from throughout this land.
    The chiefs enter by the East gate (if there are a large number they may enter by all gates), moving the way of the sun, following its way through the arbor past the Holy Father to the South, wrapping around by way of the West and after passing the North, returning to a place to be seated, and a place of prominence with the rest of their fellow chiefs.
    Here the formal program begins with the Holy Father being welcomed by the internationally renowned chief and former chief of this nation, Dr. Wilton Littlechild, a commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and certainly someone whose advocacy has helped facilitate the arrival of the Holy Father to this traditional territory.
    After brief words of welcome, Pope Francis offers his discourse. We anticipate it will be a reiteration of the apology he first issued on April 1, 2022 in the presence of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Survivors, Knowledge Keepers, and youth at the Vatican.
    It is expected that the Holy Father will speak in Spanish with consecutive english spoken aloud by a priest translating for the pope.
    Having concluded his remarks, a traditional Indigenous singer (Gerry Saddleback) is offering an honor song. This is sung in the Cree language, a way of gesturing openness and, for some, acceptance of the Holy Father’s apology and an invitation to all those present, in their own way and according to their own personal timeline, to seek to accept that same invitation toward forgiveness.
    The Holy Father, as is often customary before leaving a gathering, particpates in the praying of the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father). It is expected that the pope will quietly pray this in his native language of Spanish or in the very familiar language of Latin to himself.
    For all those gathered, over the microphone, an Elder, Alec Piché will pray the Lord’s Prayer in Cree, which again is a gesture of the Holy Father to affirm appreciation for this Indigenous language, which was at risk of being lost due to the former education system.
    A number of elders (6-7) take their place on stage with the Holy Father to greet him and to exchange gifts.
    Following the gift exchange, Pope Francis offers a final prayer (blessing) as traditional music and dance resumes, in the form of a healing dance. This will be performed by two chicken dancers and two jingle dancers. The Holy Father makes his way off stage as the motorcade prepares for departure. A brief program continues as Pope Francis departs Maskwacis.
    Special guests anticipated in attendance (subject to change)
    National Chief Roseanne Archibald (Assembly of First Nations – AFN)
    Regional Chief Gerald Antoine (AFN Portfolio Holder for Papal Visit)
    President Cassidy Caron (Métis National Council)
    President Natan Obed (Inuit Tapirit Kanatami – ITK President)
    Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon
    Governor General of Canada
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
    Hon. Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
    Hon. Patricia Hadju, Minister of Indigenous Services
    Jagmeet Singh, Leader, New Democratic Party
    Senators & Elected Members of Parliament
    Hon. Patti LaBoucane-Benson – Alberta
    Hon. Patrick Brazeau – Québec
    Hon. Mary Jane McCallum – Manitoba
    Hon. Brian Francis – Prince Edward Island
    Hon. Michèle Audette – Québec
    Hon. Margaret Dawn Anderson – Northwest Territories
    Hon. Marty Klyne – Saskatchewan
    Jaime Battiste – Sydney-Victoria
    Vance Badawey – Niagara Centre
    Frank Caputo, Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo
    Adam Chambers – Simcoe North
    Blake Desjarlais – Edmonton Greisbach
    Lori Idlout – Nunavut
    Elizabeth May - Saanich—Gulf Islands

    Source: media@papalvisit.ca (English)