Tens of thousands of people are expected to fill Edmonton’s football stadium today for a public ceremony with Pope Francis.
The Pope is set to address Indigenous groups, residential and day school survivors, elders, knowledge keepers and Catholics during the roughly hour-long mass at Commonwealth Stadium.
Organizers said the event took place on the feast day of Saint Anne, the grandmother of Jesus and a day of special reverence for indigenous Catholics.
Later in the day, the Pope is expected to arrive at Lac Ste. Anne, northwest of Edmonton, to join the community’s annual pilgrimage, which regularly welcomes tens of thousands of Indigenous people to join.
The Pope’s full second day of events comes a day after he apologized to residential school survivors and their families for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in destroying culture. and forcibly assimilated Indigenous Peoples.
During an event in the community of Maskwacis, south of Edmonton, Pope Francis begged forgiveness for the evil acts of members of the Catholic Church.
“Faced with this reprehensible evil, the church knelt before God and begged Him to forgive the sins of her children… I humbly ask forgiveness for the crimes of so many Christians. against the Indigenous Peoples,” Francis said Monday through an interpreter at the community estate.
For survivor Evelyn Korkmaz, the apology left her wanting more.
She said the Vatican needed to turn over documents regarding the identities of students who had attended the institutes.
“It’s going to bring their families (and) loved ones down. Everyone needs to close their doors to heal and move on,” she said.
Alexis Nakota Sioux, Tony Alexis Country Manager, said the apology opened wounds that could not be left open.
“You can’t just say I’m sorry and walk away. It takes effort. There has to be work and more meaningful action behind it.”
The pope said asking for forgiveness is the first step and that a serious investigation is needed into what happened. He also called the overall effects of residential school-related policies “catastrophic”.
At the end of the week, Francis will travel to Quebec City to meet Indigenous Peoples and hold another Mass, and will also visit Iqaluit.
India’s Boarding Schools Settlement Medical Assistance Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their loved ones traumatized by recalling past abuses. past. The number is 1-866-925-4419.
This Canadian Press report was first published on July 26, 2022.
If you are a former student survivor of a residential school in distress, or have been affected by the residential school system and need help, you can contact the 24-hour Boarding School Crisis Line : 1-866-925-4419
Mental health support and additional Indigenous resources are available here.