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(Edmonton, AB – May 16, 2022) – The President of the Metis Nation of Alberta is hopeful the upcoming visit by Pope Francis to Canada in July will complete “another step down the road of reconciliation following the historic visit to the Vatican in April.”

In a prepared statement, Audrey Poitras said, “We are hopeful one of the locations Pope Francis visits is Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta because the location is culturally and spiritually significant for the Metis Nation of Alberta and all Indigenous Peoples in the Country.”

She added, “We look forward to working with the Holy See to ensure our citizens, especially Survivors, will have the opportunity to attend gatherings as part of his visit.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also welcomed the pontiff’s visit. He said, “I welcome the news of His Holiness Pope Francis’ visit to Canada this summer to formally deliver the Roman Catholic Church’s apology for its role in operating residential schools that caused lasting pain and suffering to Indigenous Peoples in this country.”

Trudeau continued his statement, adding, “His Holiness’ upcoming visit would not be possible without the bravery and determination of the Survivors, Indigenous leaders, and youth who shared their stories.“While His Holiness delivered an apology in Rome last month, a formal in-person apology in Canada from the Roman Catholic Church to Survivors and their families would respond to Call to Action #58 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). This would be an important – and necessary – step for the Roman Catholic Church to continue engaging in dialogue with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis in order to advance meaningful reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples in our country. For far too long, this has been a burden carried by Indigenous Peoples alone. I encourage all Canadians to watch this historic moment and reflect on the impacts of colonialism.

“The Government of Canada is committed to implementing the TRC’s Calls to Action and supporting Survivors and their communities in the journey of healing. We will continue to support First Nations, Inuit, and Métis by investing in their efforts to identify and recover those who never came home. Recognizing that this work can trigger painful memories, the government will also continue to invest in culturally appropriate mental health and wellness supports so that individuals, families, and communities can grieve and heal.

The Prime Minister concluded his remarks by encouraging survivors to seek counselling where necessary, saying “If you need to talk to someone, mental health supports will continue to be available to residential school Survivors, their families, and communities throughout the Pope’s visit to Canada, including through national helplines and other mental wellness services.”

The Pope will visit Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit as part of this pilgrimage from July 24 to July 29.

The visit comes after the Pope’s apology in Italy for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools in Canada. Pope Francis is scheduled to visit a former residential school during his July trip to Canada. Organizers said the trip is part of his commitment to Indigenous healing and reconciliation.

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Roy Dahl

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of "The Native Press".
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