Pope Francis Arrives in Canada for ‘Penitential’ Trip Over Indigenous Abuse at Residential Schools

Pope Francis arrived in Canada on July 24 for a week-long “penitential pilgrimage” and is set to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the abuse of indigenous children at residential schools.

The pope landed at the Edmonton International Airport at around 11 a.m. local time and was greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor General Mary Simon, and a drum group from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.

“He is visiting Canada to deliver the Roman Catholic Church’s apology to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Survivors and their descendants — for its role in operating residential schools, and for causing pain and suffering that continues to this very day,” Trudeau said on Twitter.

Last year, hundreds of unmarked graves were discovered at former residential schools, many of which were run by the Catholic Church.

“I hope that this visit is the beginning of a change in history, a change in the way business is going to be done, and a way for us to begin our healing journey,” Treaty Six Grand Chief George Arcand Jr. told CBC News.

“More importantly, I asked the Pope to walk with us and create this new road that needs to be created,” Arcand added.

The pope plans to visit the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School in the community of Maskwacis, south of Edmonton, where he is expected to deliver his first public statement, on July 25.

The pope will also travel to Quebec City and to Iqaluit before heading back to the Vatican on July 29.

The visit to Canada is the pope’s 37th Apostolic Journey abroad, according to Vatican News.

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