A memorial on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School  ((c) Jennifer Gauthier)

By Vatican News staff reporter

March 24 2022

The Holy See Press Office issues a brief statement giving details of the visit of several delegations of indigenous Canadian peoples to the Vatican, which will take place next week.

In a brief statement released on Wednesday, the Holy See Press Office explained that Pope Francis will meet individually with several different delegations of Canadian indigenous peoples, along with their bishops.

He will have the opportunity to listen to their testimonies, including personal testimonies of the lasting legacy of the so-called residential schools.

According to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Pope will meet with representatives of the three major groups of indigenous peoples – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis – recognized in Canada’s Constitution Act of 1982.

Pope Francis will meet with the delegations of Métis and Inuit on Monday, 28 March; and with the First Nations delegation next Thursday, 31 March.

The following day, Friday, 1 April, Pope Francis will receive all three delegations together, along with representatives of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference (CCCB), during which the Holy Father will address those present.

Journey toward healing

The meeting with Pope Francis was originally announced by the CCCB in November of 2021. At the time, CCCB president Bishop Raymond Poisson said, “The journey towards healing and reconciliation is a long one, but we believe this will be a significant milestone in the Catholic Church’s commitment to renewing, strengthening and reconciling relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land.”

He explained, “With this delegation, we hope to walk together in a new way, to listen with humility, and to discern the next steps that the Church can take to support residential school survivors, their families, and their communities.”

Pope Francis’ meeting with Indigenous peoples of Canada was originally scheduled to take place in December 2021, but was postponed due to a surge in Covid cases in Italy. -Vatican News