Pope Francis expresses 'shame and sorrow' for residential schools in Quebec speech
Pope Francis on Wednesday expressed shame and sorrow for the role Catholic institutions played in the "deplorable" residential school system, promising the church would help promote the Indigenous cultures the schools tried to erase.
Speaking at Quebec City's historic Citadelle, Francis asked forgiveness for the harm done by the policies of assimilation carried out in the schools.
"In that deplorable system, promoted by the governmental authorities of the time, which separated many children from their families, different local Catholic institutions had a part," Francis said.
"For this reason, I express my deep shame and sorrow, and, together with the bishops of this country, I renew my request for forgiveness for the wrong done by so many Christians to the Indigenous Peoples."
It is the second papal apology on Canadian soil for Francis, who is midway through a six-day tour he has described as a "pilgrimage of penance." On Monday, he begged forgiveness for the "evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous Peoples," during a speech in Maskwacis, Alta.
But neither the apology on Monday nor the plea for forgiveness in Quebec City Wednesday directly mentioned the sexual abuse that Indigenous children suffered in residential schools. Earlier in the day, in an interview with The Canadian Press, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said that omission was part of the "gaps" in Pope Francis's apology in Alberta, which the minister said can't be ignored.
In his remarks introducing the Pope in Quebec City, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attempted to fill in part of that gap.
He said Indigenous Peoples have been for years calling on the Pope to apologize to survivors, their children and grandchildren, and to First Nations communities.
"Apologies for the role that the Roman Catholic Church, as an institution, played in the mistreatment on the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse that Indigenous children suffered in residential schools run by the church," Trudeau said.
The Pope left Edmonton on Wednesday morning and arrived mid-afternoon in Quebec City, travelling to the Citadelle of Quebec for private meetings with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and Trudeau.
In his speech, Francis said his time in Canada has left him with a "firm desire" to move forward on reconciliation and to help heal the deep wounds of the past.
In an address delivered in Spanish and translated into several languages, he said the church is committed to responding in a "fitting way" to the appeals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which examined the abuse that took place in residential schools and published recommendations to address it.
Pope Francis accompanied by Governor-General Mary Simon, right, arrives at the Citadelle de Quebec, Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in Quebec City, Quebec City, Quebec. Pope Francis is on a "penitential" six-day visit to Canada to beg forgiveness from survivors of the country's residential schools, where Catholic missionaries contributed to the "cultural genocide" of generations of Indigenous children by trying to stamp out their languages, cultures and traditions. (AP Photo/John Locher)
He added that the church was committed to promoting Indigenous culture through "specific and appropriate forms of spiritual accompaniment that include attention to their cultural traditions, customs, languages and educational processes" in the spirit of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Before his address, the pontiff was presented with a wild turkey feather and sweetgrass by a Huron-Wendat elder, Raymond Gros-Louis.
Simon, speaking just ahead of the pontiff, said the Pope's visit was an important step toward further dialogue and actions that will lead to real reconciliation.
"Indeed, we look forward to hearing more of the church's future actions to continue this essential work," said Canada's first Indigenous Governor General, who delivered her speech in English, French and Inuktitut.
The atmosphere was more festive later at the Plains of Abraham, where crowds cheered and chanted, "Thank you," as Francis did a drive-by tour in his popemobile. Francis, accompanied by the archbishop of Quebec, smiled and waved from the back of a white Jeep and occasionally kissed babies who were passed over the barricades and dangled into the vehicle by security staff.
A second apology from the Pope had been a demand from some Indigenous leaders in Quebec, who said they deserved to hear the pontiff ask forgiveness on their home soil.
Those who gathered the Plains of Abraham ahead of Francis's speech, however, expressed mixed opinions on whether another apology would satisfy them.
There was a heavy police presence on the grounds, as concerts and other artistic performances took place throughout the afternoon. While the site's capacity is over 100,000 people, the crowd that had gathered just over an hour before the Pope's scheduled arrival was only a fraction of that number.
'SMALL STEP' IN JOURNEY OF HEALING
For residential school survivor Omer St-Onge, the Pope's visit represents a "small step" in a journey of healing. But St-Onge, who comes from the Innu community of Uashat-Maliotenam, on Quebec's north shore, said before the Pope's address that he was hoping for more than just an apology.
"It's time for the Pope to decide to give us back artifacts, objects that were taken from us that are all at the Vatican and in churches, documents about young people who died," said St-Onge, whose birth name is Uapan Ushekatok.
Fabien Jaubert, also from Uashat-Maliotenam, said he had come to honour the memories of residential school survivors, including his grandmother and aunts.
"I'm expecting an apology from the Pope," he said in an interview on the Plains of Abraham ahead of the pontiff's arrival. "I would like to hear him make one on behalf of the church, instead of just certain actors."
Among those present at the site was a group of Indigenous marchers who walked 275 kilometres from the site of the former Pointe-Bleue residential school in the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh in Quebec's Saguenay region. The group, who started walking last Thursday, were greeted with cheers as they arrived onstage.
The Pointe-Bleue institution was the last of the federally funded, church-run schools to close in Quebec, in 1991. Chantal Niquay, who attended the school, described the march as "liberating" and said it was helping her heal from the scars of the past.
"I had my children young and I wasn't totally there for them, but today I understand why. We give each other so much love," the 43-year-old woman said.
Mike Parayaoan of Montreal, who lined up with 15 family members at 8 a.m., was among the first on-site. He said that while there were "mixed emotions" surrounding the visit, his main feeling was one of excitement.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime event that me and my family could attempt to see the Pope," he said.
After visiting the Plains of Abraham, the Pope headed to the residence of the archbishop of Quebec, where he plans to stay during his time in the province.
On Thursday, Francis is to hold a mass at the shrine of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, east of the city, then attend vespers with church officials at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec.
On Friday, he is to make a brief stop in Iqaluit before heading home to Vatican City.
With files from The Canadian Press' Frederic Lacroix-Couture in Quebec City and Morgan Lowrie in Montreal
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2022.
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
23 vehicles towed, dozens of tickets issued as rally marks one-year anniversary of 'Freedom Convoy' in Ottawa
OPS and Ottawa Bylaw officers issued 192 parking tickets and 67 Provincial Offences Notices in downtown Ottawa this weekend, as people gathered marked the one-year anniversary of the 'Freedom Convoy'.
While RSV and flu cases steadily decline in Canada, the World Health Organization is set to announce on Monday whether it still considers COVID-19 a global health emergency, but one infectious disease specialist says we still need to keep an eye on the coronavirus.
YouTube superstar MrBeast is making the world clearer -- for at least 1,000 people. The content creator's latest stunt is paying for cataract removal for 1,000 people who were blind or near-blind but could not afford the surgery.
Actor Annie Wersching, best known for playing FBI agent Renee Walker in the series '24' and providing the voice for Tess in the video game 'The Last of Us' has died. She was 45.
On a bleak, windswept hillside in northeast Ukraine, three young boys recently discovered a cell phone signal, something difficult to find in their region since Russia invaded their country. and they've set up a makeshift school around the signal.
A Russian teenager must wear an ankle bracelet while she is under house arrest after she was charged over social media posts that authorities say discredit the Russian army and justify terrorism.
Roughly one in 200 babies born in Canada today will have congenital cytomegalovirus, a virus that can lead to hearing loss, intellectual disability or vision loss. But with only two provinces screening newborns for CMV, one father is asking other health-care systems to do more.
An emotional ceremony took place today marking the sixth anniversary of the Quebec City mosque shooting, held for the first time in the same room where many of the victims were killed. Six men died that night: Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti were gunned down not long after evening prayers at the suburban Quebec City mosque.
Late Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion is being remembered for the many ways she contributed to not only to the city she led for 36 years, but also the province and country following her death on Sunday morning.
A man is dead and a male suspect is in custody following a stabbing at a downtown Toronto apartment building on Sunday afternoon.
Actress, teacher and former senator Viola Leger has died at the age of 92.
Calls grow for Ottawa to set conditions against funding private health care in negotiations with provinces, territories
As momentum and negotiations build toward a long awaited deal on federal health care funding, calls are also growing for specific conditions on how any transfer money should be spent.
Horror, outrage, and pain are just a few words Robert Wright uses to describe his feelings after watching Tyre Nichols pinned and assaulted by officers in Memphis.
It could be a watershed moment for homeless policies in Ontario. A judge denied a Region of Waterloo court bid for an injunction to have homeless encampments removed from land at Victoria Street North and Weber Street West in Kitchener due to too few shelter spaces, and the decision is already on the radar of city officials and homeless advocates in London.
The Woodstock Police Service have arrested three men following an overnight standoff. Inspector Marci Shelton told CTV News London the incident began on William Street, just off Ingersoll Avenue shortly after 9 p.m.
Seven London Fire Department vehicles, including an aerial unit, responded to an alarm at in the city’s northeast end Sunday. Just before 8 a.m., dispatchers were alerted to a structure fire at Zucora Home on Clarke Road, north of Dundas Street.
A southern Ontario driver operating a commercial motor vehicle based in Edmonton, Alta. has been charged with 24 Highway Traffic Act offences in a 24-hour period before the vehicle was removed from service in northern Ontario.
An apartment fire in Greater Sudbury Saturday evening has left one man in critical condition and displaced 30 residents.
The Foothills Athletic Park redesign could get a little closer to reality on Monday.
A Calgary craft beer store experienced its worst-case scenario Saturday night.
The University of Lethbridge says a controversial guest speaker appearance will go ahead, despite pushback from some students.
Sunday marks the 6th anniversary of a deadly attack at a Quebec City mosque where six men were killed and five others were critically injured.
The Waterloo Fire Department is crediting a working carbon monoxide (CO) detector for potentially helping to save the lives of two people early Sunday morning.
The Cambridge Fire Department said there were no injuries after a fire at a Mcdonald’s on Main Street in Cambridge.
A fire at an exotic animal rescue in Surrey killed dozens of animals and displaced many more over the weekend.
Orthoopaedic surgeons report that they’re doing only three quarters of the surgeries they used to in B.C.'s public hospitals, with an increasing number of taxpayer-funded procedures carried out in private facilities
B.C. couple says they were scammed by 'professional' wedding photographer who used stock images as portfolio
A Vancouver couple says they were scammed by a wedding photographer who used stock photos for his portfolio, delivered sub-par snaps of their big day, and then stopped taking their phone calls.
The future of an intersection west of Edmonton in Parkland County, known by some as the "death trap" for being the scene of multiple crashes, continues to be reviewed by the provincial government.
A University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey goalie was doing homework Saturday night when he got the call that he would dress as the Oilers' backup.
Edmontonians plunged into the freezing Lake Summerside Sunday afternoon in support of Special Olympics Alberta.
As Windsor city councillors consider rescinding their support for the previously-approved location for the SafePoint consumption and treatment site (CTS), protestors are expected to be outside city hall demanding the project move forward as scheduled.
No one was home at the time of a house fire which started at 3 a.m. on Sunday. LaSalle Fire Service Chief Ed Thiessen said by the time crews arrived at 1077 Reaume Road the house was “fully involved” so they had to fight the fire from the outside.
A 40-year-old man from Chatham is facing charges after he allegedly attempted to solicit explicit images from a teen girl using fake social media accounts, police said.
The city has planned a public information session to provide an update on the Saskatchewan Drive Corridor Project.
Regina police responded to an early morning call on Sunday that ended with one man in custody.
“Getting in touch with yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically if we’re talking about the medicine wheel, is really a big part of our healing journey as Indigenous people.”
A section of Ottawa's Confederation Line was out of service for more than 90 minutes Sunday evening due to a power outage. Full service resumed just after 10 p.m.
With the world's largest skating rink still closed, the Ice Dragon Boat Festival scheduled for next weekend has been cancelled.
An inmate in the Regional Psychiatric Centre died while in custody on Saturday.
Saskatchewan is home to a wide variety of animals, but the Wildlife Festival brought over 50 unique animals from all over the world to show and share.
Over 3,000 athletes ranging in age and skill level participated in Canada’s largest indoor invitational international track and field meet, the Knights of Columbus Indoor Games.