Pope Francis has arrived in western Canada for what he has called a “pilgrimage of penance.” The pope is embarking on a six-day visit of Canada to apologize for the abuse of Indigenous children who were removed from their homes and sent to church-run residential schools where they faced psychological, physical and sexual abuse. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has described the practice, which went on for decades, as a form of “cultural genocide.” The commission determined that more more than 4,000 Indigenous children died from neglect or abuse in residential schools. This is Tony Alexis, chief of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.
Tony Alexis: “As the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis’s apology is an acknowledgement of the church’s role in the harm and pain caused to Indigenous peoples living in Canada. For some, our people, Pope Francis’s apology will not be enough. Healing is not linear. This apology will be a fundamental step towards forgiveness, closure, healing and reconciliation for many others. Much like Wakamne, the healing abilities, it is fitting that the pope’s visit to this healing place will bring healing to so many.”