SAINTE-ANNE-DE-BEAUPRE, Que. –
Indigenous peoples are expressing a mixture of hope and skepticism after Pope Francis’ Mass in the Quebec City area, with some saying they want to hear about concrete steps that will follow the pontiff’s historic residential school apology.
On Thursday, Francis held a reconciliation-themed mass before a congregation made up largely of residential school survivors and other Indigenous peoples, a day after offering another apology and asking for forgiveness for the role played by institutions. Catholics in schools.
During his homily, the pontiff used two biblical stories – that of Adam and Eve and that of two disciples haunted by failure after Jesus’ death – to illustrate the “difficult and demanding journey of healing and reconciliation”. from the church.
“In facing the scandal of evil and the wounded body of Christ in the flesh of our native brothers and sisters, we too have experienced deep consternation; we too feel the burden of failure,” François said at the Basilica of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré east of Quebec. He urged his followers not to run away or hide from the consequences of failure, but rather to turn to Jesus.
Chief Real McKenzie of the Matimekush-Lac John Innu Nation said he hoped the pope’s visit and his message would bring healing to some, but acknowledged it had divided communities. “Some will accept it,” but some won’t, McKenzie said. “Some will die with it.”
Among those present were the Munoz family, who are of Mohawk descent and who traveled from California to see Francis.
Yolanda Munoz, whose grandfather attended residential school in Ontario, said the next step should include returning Indigenous remains so they can be buried “here in the country where they were taken.”
“We are not relics,” she said. “We have to bring back the bones of our children, the bones of our ancestors, they have to go home.”
Jackie Gull-Barney, from the Waswanipi Cree First Nation in northern Quebec, said before the service that she hoped to find healing and peace through the Pope’s visit.
Gull-Barney said her family was “split in two” by residential schools, after she and two of her siblings were sent to English-language schools in Ontario, and two younger siblings have learned French in schools in Quebec.
She was pleased with the pope’s apology to the Indigenous people of Maskwacis, Alberta, whom she considered “very humble and very sincere.” But like Munoz, she is interested in knowing what concrete steps will follow.
“What will happen after the apology? she says. “Will there be programs and places where we can get help and support to continue?”
Hundreds of people gathered outside the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré shrine to listen to Pope Francis lead the second mass of his Canadian tour, which he called a pilgrimage of penance.
Before mass, two people raised their fists in the air briefly holding up a large banner that read “Repeal the Doctrine” at the front of the church. The banner referred to the Doctrine of Discovery, which stems from a series of edicts, known as papal bulls, dating from the 15th century.
Countries, including Canada, have used the doctrine to justify the colonization of lands considered uninhabited that were in fact home to Indigenous peoples.
Organizers said many of the speakers who delivered readings at Thursday’s service were indigenous, and the Pope’s chasuble – the outermost garment worn by Roman Catholic priests during Mass – was specially designed by an artist local Huron-Wendat.
Many on the pews were dressed in orange to represent the Every Child Matters movement – remembering the children lost in residential schools and the survivors. Some attendees wore floral scarves and seniors in wheelchairs sat in a section to the left near the stage.
The site is one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites in North America and attracts over one million visitors each year. Organizers said more than 16,000 people were expected inside and out, although attendance at previous Pope events in Alberta fell short of expectations.
Louis Joe Bernard, a Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia, said the pope’s visit was emotional, but he was glad he came to Canada.
“I think we need God in our lives and with the pope here realizing, acknowledging the harm that’s been done to indigenous people, I think that’s good,” Bernard said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday the pope’s trip to Canada was a “healing step,” but acknowledged that some Indigenous leaders want to see Francis go further.
“The message from His Holiness, the message from the church that this is the start of a process is encouraging, has been helpful to many in their healing, but there is a lot of work to be done,” Trudeau said. to reporters outside the church.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault told reporters that many of Quebec’s values come from the Catholic Church, including a sense of helping each other.
But he also said he intended to use his private meeting with the pope on Friday to ask him to hand over to Indigenous communities any documents on residential schools, which he described as a dark period in Quebec history. and Canadian.
Later Thursday, the pope is due to attend Vespers, an evening prayer service, with church officials at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec.
Pope Francis is due to leave Quebec on Friday and make a brief stopover in Iqaluit before returning to Vatican City.
The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help survivors of residential schools and their loved ones suffering from trauma invoked by the memory of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 28, 2022.
ctvnews Canada news