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
A former police officer is urging Canadians to be vigilant this holiday season when buying gift cards on display at retail stores, after almost falling victim to a scam involving tampered gift cards --- twice.
Federal officials say they will review a contract awarded to a Canadian company last year, given its parent organization's ties to the Chinese government.
Researchers from Quebec and Ontario are calling for better testing to track the spread of tick-borne germs as the disease-causing bacteria gain new ground in Canada.
A Virginia sheriff's deputy who killed the family members of a 15-year-old California girl he tried to sexually extort online had been detained in 2016 for a psychiatric evaluation over threats to kill himself and his father, years before he joined law enforcement, according to a police report.
Canadians may see a noticeable drop in airfare early in the new year, something industry watchers say could put airlines on shaky ground financially moving forward.
Just a few months into her husband's reign, Queen Consort Camilla is already putting her own personal stamp on the job, says a royal expert, due to her decisions to focus on 'gritty issues' and do away with a longstanding royal tradition.
As Dec. 25 approaches, an international travel website has released its official 2022 list of the 25 best Christmas markets in North America, including six in Canada.
Police say the search for a missing man from Minden Hills has ended in tragedy.
The former mayor of Kelowna, B.C., has been charged with sexual assault, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Peel Regional Police have released new surveillance video of the alleged suspect in Saturday's shooting at a Mississauga gas station that left a 21-year-old woman dead.
Drivers hoping for cheaper gas should wait to fill up until later this week.
Toronto woman 'livid' after police allegedly told her to 'call the mayor' during home invasion attempt
A Toronto woman says she is “livid” after an officer with the Toronto Police Service (TPS) allegedly told her to “call the mayor” while an intruder attempted to break into her home Monday night.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual medicine offered a novel way for patients to see doctors during a lockdown and hope that technology could alleviate chronic pressure on a strained health system.
The health-care system across New Brunswick is continuing to struggle with a shortage of ICU beds and an abundance of parked ambulances waiting to unload patients outside local emergency departments.
The Maritimes’ children’s hospital is seeing long wait times in its emergency department as cold, flu and RSV cases rise in the region.
Flames still flicker from an early morning blaze that claimed a trio of barns on a farm near Holmesville, Ont. on Wednesday. 14 cattle and nine chickens perished in the fire, and damages are estimated at between $2 million to $3 million.
Local cannabis producer Entourage Health will be shutting down its Strathroy and Guelph, Ont. cultivation facilities over the coming months, resulting in a loss of 90 jobs, the company recently announced.
OPP have identified a 67-year-old man from Mississauga as the victim of a fatal crash involving a transport truck and an SUV in Middlesex County earlier this month.
In one of the company’s first public addresses since merging with Kirkland Lake Gold in February, Andre Leite, Agnico Eagle’s Ontario vice-president, said he sees growth potential in northeastern Ontario.
Organizers of Sault Ste. Marie’s premier winter event say it’s coming back bigger and better.
On Wednesday morning, Sudbury’s Laurentian University announced a new interim president and provost, while a national search is undertaken for permanent leaders.
Alberta police are once again warning people about a scam that has caused people in the province to collectively lose $3.5 million dollars this year.
Some Calgary teens had a special shopping partner at Marlborough Mall on Wednesday morning; a uniformed Calgary Police Service officer.
More than 1,000 people lined up to see a rock 'n' roll legend in Calgary on Wednesday night.
Detectives with the Brantford Police Service are now investigating a homicide after an 68-year-old man died from injuries inflicted during an assault.
New program at St. Mary’s General Hospital is teaching skills to students living with learning disabilities
Ryan Brown, a Grade 12 student at St. David Catholic Secondary School, lives with an intellectual disability, but that’s not stopping him from learning new skills at a local hospital.
Advocates say respiratory illnesses are taking a toll on long-term care facilities, prompting calls for Canadians to exercise caution this holiday season while attending gatherings with senior citizens.
B.C.’s health minister did not disclose an exceptionally high number of influenza deaths among children until pressed by reporters Wednesday, a day after CTV News reported six such tragedies have been recorded in recent weeks.
A review done after the death of a Cree teen at his Abbotsford, B.C. group home found a failure to document suicide assessments and major delays in writing a treatment plan, a coroner's inquest heard Wednesday.
Investigators from B.C.'s anti-gang police unit say seven men have been charged in an ongoing drug trafficking investigation, and two of them remain at large.
Alberta now has 1,042 Albertans in hospital with the coronavirus, 38 of whom are receiving care in ICUs.
Following through on promises made on primetime TV two weeks ago, Danielle Smith's government introduced legislation Wednesday to help Albertans with the rising cost of living.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s sovereignty bill galloped toward the finish line Wednesday, with the government using debate time limits to rebut what it called Opposition delay tactics.
Windsor police say a suspect has been arrested in connection to a fatal shooting on Hanna Street last week.
Out of more than 40 cities across Canada, Windsor is ranked poorest for the size of its commuter population getting to work or school by foot, bus or bicycle.
Candice Gagnon started the week on the wrong foot. The Amherstburg resident was working at an e-commerce company in Windsor and thought it was her forever job. That dream came to a crashing halt Monday when she received an email explaining the company was closing down for good.
Regina housing advocates Joey Reynolds and Donnie Wood are speaking up, with the hope to spark change to make sure everyone has a warm place to stay, especially at night.
A motion regarding legal action against Regina's city manager was on the agenda for the final city council meeting before budget deliberations next week.
'We are continuing to monitor the situation': RCMP and Yorkton Fire Department continue to investigate apartment blaze
The RCMP and the Yorkton Fire Department (YFD) continue to investigate a blaze that engulfed an apartment complex and displaced 15 residents on Tuesday.
Highway 401 is closed between Morrisburg, Ont. and Ingleside following a fatal collision Wednesday afternoon.
Just one Ottawa restaurant has cracked OpenTable's annual list of the 100 best in Canada.
Canadians for Affordable Energy president Dan McTeague says gas prices will drop two cents a litre at Ottawa gas stations on Thursday to 138.9 cents a litre.
Saskatoon business advocate Keith Moen was blindsided when he learned of Air Canada's plan to stop the twice-daily direct flights from Saskatoon and Regina to Calgary on Jan. 16, 2023.
Mosaic is pressing pause on potash production at its Colonsay mine.
Lance Littlecrow, 26, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the 2015 death of Danil Tsannie today.