Pope Francis in Canada: The end of the pilgrimage to Iqaluit in Nunavut amid criticism


IQALUIT, Nunavut – On the last leg of a punitive pilgrimage that drew the mixed opinions of the Aboriginal people he came to visit, Pope Francis on Friday apologized again to survivors of boarding schools in Canada and said he hoped to “shed light on what happened and transcend that dark past” .

Built on permafrost, the town of Iqaluit marked a fitting end to a somber and unique papal journey, primarily intended to atone for the cruelty of the government-funded schools, which were run mostly by Catholic entities.

“I want to tell you how very sorry I am,” said the Pope.

He particularly noted the way in which the system, which aims to forcibly assimilate Aboriginal children into Christian culture, withdraws children from their parents and grandparents – a practice he called “evil”.

“Families are separated,” Francis, wearing a white jacket, told several thousand people outside Nakasuk School in Iqaluit.

He delivered his notes in his native Spanish, translated into English and Inktot, in this remote area 200 miles from the Arctic Circle, where boarding schools have changed the lives of the majority of the Inuit population. It was the last of his kit apologies this week.

Pope apologizes for ‘evil committed by many Christians’ in Canadian boarding schools

Many indigenous people said they were touched by the long-awaited visit – especially given the 85-year-old’s visit. Weakness and stagnation. They said his willingness to say “I’m sorry” on Aboriginal lands was a crucial first step toward recovery. But as the week went on, he faced criticism from indigenous leaders, who said they were still waiting for his apology for the Catholic Church as an institution.

“[The apology] Roseanne Archibald, National President of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a television interview this week after the pope’s appearance in Masquax, Alberta. She was one of the indigenous leaders who greeted Francis upon his arrival in the country on Sunday.

Francis personally apologized for the “evil committed by many Christians” but not to the Church as a whole. Nor did he talk about aspects of the establishment that may have allowed it to advance Canadian government policy that the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said amounted to cultural genocide.

For most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families to be placed in boarding schools often hundreds of miles from their communities. they were They are forbidden to speak their mother tongues or practicing their cultural traditions and, in many cases, being physically and sexually abused.

What do you know about residential schools in Canada and unmarked graves found nearby

Murray Sinclair, a lawyer who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said Francis’ words so far had a “deep hole”.

“It was more than the work of a few bad actors — it was a concerted institutional effort to take children out of their families and cultures, all in the name of Christian excellence,” Sinclair said.

One of the basic requests of the natives was that the church repeal the papal edicts of the fifteenth century CE that provided religious support for the conquest of native lands in the New World and elsewhere by Europeans.

Although Francis, the first pope from South America, repeatedly denounced historical colonization and forced assimilation, he did not directly discuss the doctrine of discovery, the politics that arose from those edicts. Before Mass celebrated Thursday in the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaubert Outside Quebec City, two members of the Bachuana First Nation in Aboriginal clothing raised a banner that read “Abolish the Creed.”

Pope Francis visits Quebec, which is quickly getting rid of Catholicism

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has appeared with Francis on several appearances this week, said in a statement that he had discussed with him the need to address the principle of discovery, but did not go into details.

Several days before the trip, a Vatican spokesman said that “reflection” inside the Holy See was underway.

In Iqaluit – a site “others consider inhospitable” – Francis said his parting words were as much about life advice as remorse. He spoke before Inuit youth, about self-belief, the importance of big dreams, and even ice hockey. (“How did Canada win all those Olympic medals?” he asked. “Team spirit always makes the difference.”)

In Quebec City earlier Friday, Francis took a reflective tone at a morning meeting with about 20 indigenous representatives. He said he came “as a pilgrim, despite my physical limitations,” and that the stories he heard would always be “a part of me.”

“I dare say, if you will excuse me, now, in a sense, I also feel part of your family, and for this I am honored,” said the Pope.

“Now I come home very enriched.”

Boarding schools banned mother tongues. Cree want them back.

Francis was on the ground in Iqaluit on Friday for less than three hours. In Canada’s far north is the capital of Nunavut, an area spanning the Arctic Circle that is three times the size of Texas, but has a population of only 40,000 spread across 25 hamlets and the capital. The widespread communities are connected to each other and the rest of Canada only by plane.

Until the 1950s, the area was of little interest to anyone but whalers and missionaries. Change and modernization are now unfolding at an astonishing speed.

Nunavut faces social and environmental challenges. The poverty rate is high and housing is tight. The suicide rate is multiples higher than the rest of Canada, and the climate there is warming faster than the global average, melting permafrost and stressing water supplies.

Prior to his speech, Francis met privately with survivors of boarding schools. He then joined in an event that marked the Inuit language and traditions such as throat singing. Organizers said the actors were chosen to showcase cultural expressions that boarding schools have attempted – but failed – to stifle completely. After his speech, the choir sang the Lord’s Prayer in the Inktetot.

Francis was able to manage the Canada trip even though he was nearly immobilized due to knee pain. Before he left, organizers were worried the Vatican might cancel – as he was due to make a papal visit this month to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

A teenage girl from the Congo alleges that she was raped by a priest. She had to flee. He can still say Mass.

In Canada, Francis has essentially moved from seat to seat — his popemobile, his Fiat 500, his wheelchair — relying on help any time he got up. The journey started in At a noticeably slower pace than others during his pontificate. He held roughly two events a day, instead of the usual four or five. In Quebec on Friday morning, use a walker.

“He’s obviously making a sacrifice” to be in Canada, an Aboriginal attendee said at Thursday mass. Her birth name is Opolahsomuwehs, but her name was Imelda Burley during childhood by a nun.

Now 73, a retired linguist and teacher, Opolahsomuhs said she still needs to “hear more than I’m sorry.”

“I want to hear how the church will get back what it took.”