Pope apologizes to indigenous peoples

Pope Francis speaking at a public event. Photo: Nathan Dennett/The Canadian Press/dpa

Friday night (local time) in the small coastal town of Iqaluit, the 85-year-old Argentinian said the boys are the future of the region. It is not enough to live from what others have already created. The head of the Catholic Church further explained that what is received as a gift must also be earned for oneself. The world in which people lived in these regions was the wealth they inherited.

The reason for the pope’s visit to Canada was a request for forgiveness from the indigenous peoples. In Iqaluit, a few hundred kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, it caters primarily to the Inuit who live there. For decades, thousands of Indigenous children across the country have faced violence and abuse in boarding schools run by the Catholic Church.

“Even today, even here, I want to tell you that I am deeply saddened and would like to apologize,” Francis continued. He wanted to apologize for the harm done by “a lot of Catholics” who had contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation and disenfranchisement in those schools.

Some people shed tears. The former boarders had come that day to meet the pope and hear his request for pardon. Some put up signs calling for concrete actions rather than words and demanded that 30 million Canadian dollars be pledged in reparations to residential school survivors.

In 1876, the Canadian government introduced the so-called Indian Act, under which children from Indigenous families in residential schools were to be assimilated into Western society and separated from their culture. The Catholic Church supported him, and by the late 1960s was running several institutions across Canada, including Iqaluit.

There was hunger, disease, violence and sexual abuse in the boarding schools. Hundreds of children – some estimates 6,000 – died there and never returned home. When First Nations, Métis and Inuit representatives met him at the Vatican in late March, Francis had already apologized to the indigenous people.

With Iqaluit – which roughly translates to “place with lots of fish” – Francis chose a place in Canada that is severely affected by the consequences of climate change. In the capital and major trading center of the Nunavut region, Inuit have reported thinner ice caps, forming later and melting earlier. It was even more surprising that Francis did not mention climate change in his speech. After all, he keeps coming back to the Vatican on this subject. And wrote about it in his environmental manual “Laudato Si”.

In Iqaluit, nearly 8,000 residents were again affected by a water crisis last year when fuel got into their drinking water. The government had to fly to bottled water because the water was no longer drinkable. An investigation came to the conclusion that the old sewer system but also climate change were also responsible.

As the ice thins and the pipes are no longer in a layer of permafrost, they can shift as the ground freezes and thaws more often, causing damage. The tribes also saw less snowfall. In recent years, new maximum temperatures have also been measured and unusual seasonal rainfall amounts have been recorded.

Prior to Iqaluit, Pope Francis traveled first to Edmonton in the western Canadian province of Alberta for his meetings with Indigenous peoples the first week, then to predominantly Catholic Quebec in the province of the same name. in French-speaking Canada.

After a visit to Iqaluit, which lasted about four hours, Francis left for Rome. His six-day visit to Canada has come to an end. He was due to land in Rome on Saturday morning. On the return flight, Francis usually holds a press conference and answers questions from reporters.


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