According to the Holy See, the pontiff met with 10 delegates from the Métis, an indigenous people from central Canada, and eight representatives from the Inuit, Eskimos who inhabit the Arctic regions.
“Each meeting lasted about an hour and was characterized, on the part of the pope, by the desire to hear and give space to the painful stories brought by the survivors,” said a statement from the Vatican, adding that the meetings “will continue in the days to come”.
In all, 32 Indigenous Canadians are in the Vatican to meet with Jorge Bergoglio, meetings that were scheduled for December but were postponed to March due to the spread of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus late last year.
“While the moment of recognition, apology and atonement is long overdue, it is never too late to do the right thing,” said Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council, after to have met the pontiff.
According to Caron, Francisco listened carefully to reports from the indigenous peoples, but did not immediately apologize. “We hope that by engaging with us in real action, the Church can finally begin its own path to meaningful and lasting reconciliation,” he added.
Next Thursday (31), the Pope is to receive a delegation from the Assembly of First Nations, an organization that defends the rights of the indigenous peoples of Canada. The next day there will be a collective audience during which Francis is to deliver a speech to the natives.
“We are grateful to these delegates for walking with us on this trip and to Pope Francis for his attention to their plight and his deep commitment to social justice,” said the President of the Episcopal Conference. Canadian, Raymond Poisson.
“We hope these private meetings will allow the Holy Father to meaningfully address the trauma and legacy of suffering of Indigenous peoples,” he added.
The pope also announced that he would visit Canada – although without setting a date – to rebuild the relationship with indigenous communities, victims of forced assimilation into the dominant culture.
Last year, investigations uncovered hundreds of unnamed graves in former Catholic boarding schools for indigenous children. These public schools were run by the Church with the aim of “educating” the natives according to Christian precepts, but these children were forcibly removed from their communities and forced to abandon their customs and language.
In addition, students were frequently the targets of sexual and physical abuse by teachers. The first graves were discovered in May 2021, but the Catholic Church in Canada only apologized in September after seeing parishes burned during Indigenous protests.
It is estimated that around 150,000 natives went through these boarding schools until the 1970s. (ANSA).
“Pop culture fan. Coffee expert. Bacon nerd. Infuriatingly humble communicator. Friendly gamer.”