The July 24-30 visit comes after Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in the abuse of indigenous children.
Warning: The stories below contain potentially disturbing details about boarding schools. The Indian Boarding School Survivor and Family Crisis Line in Canada is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.
Pope Francis will travel to Canada at the end of July, Vatican announced, with Roman Catholic Church leaders expected to meet with them Aboriginal survivors of abuse committed in so-called boarding schools.
The 85-year-old will travel to Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit, the Vatican said on Friday, adding that more details about the July 24-30 visit would be released in the coming weeks.
The announcement follows the Pope last month Apologize Abuse of Aboriginal children in boarding schools by church members.
Addressing indigenous representatives at the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was “sad and ashamed” of Catholics’ role in the many injuries suffered by indigenous children in forced assimilation institutions.
“I ask God’s forgiveness for the deplorable behavior of these members of the Catholic Church, and I want to say to you with all my heart, I’m sorry. I join my brothers, the Bishops of Canada, to ask for your forgiveness,” he said.
Between the late 1800s and 1990s, Canada forced more than 150,000 Aboriginal, Inuit and Métis children to attend boarding schools. These children are deprived of their language and culture, separated from their siblings, and subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse.
Thousands are believed to have died while attending these institutions, most of which are run by the Roman Catholic Church. A federal committee investigating Canadian boarding schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), concluded in 2015 that the system amounted to a “cultural genocide.”
Pope’s apology last month welcomed by Indigenous leaders, but they call for him to visit Canada Apologize on Indigenous Land.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that the head of the Roman Catholic Church, offering a “formal and personal apology” to survivors and their families, would be an important step “to advance meaningful reconciliation among our country’s indigenous people.”
Edmonton is home to the second largest number of Aboriginal people living in Canada’s urban centres, and about 25 boarding schools are located in Alberta, the most of any province or territory in Canada, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada said.
Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, who coordinated the pope’s visit on behalf of Canadian bishops, said the pope would visit “and other important locations” at the former boarding school.
Quebec is home to one of North America’s oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites, Saint-Anne-de-beaupre, while Iqaluit, on the vast island of Baffin, is the capital of Nunavut, where many Inuit people live here.
Bishop Raymond Poisson said Canada’s bishops were “very grateful” that the pope would visit “to continue the journey of healing and reconciliation”.
Francis is expected to repeat his apology to school abuse survivors and relatives of victims.