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Pope Francis addresses Canadian leaders in Quebec

#Pope #Francis #addresses #Canadian #leaders #Quebec

Pope Francis is due to travel to Quebec City on Wednesday, where he will address Canada’s political leaders after dedicating the first part of his trip to apologize for the abuse of indigenous children in Catholic-run schools.

After two days in the western province of Alberta asking forgiveness from Canada’s Indigenous, Metis and Inuit people for more than a century of mistreatment, the 85-year-old Pope will fly to Quebec City from Edmonton on Wednesday morning.

He will first go to the Quebec Citadel, where he will meet Mary Simon, the first Indigenous person to become Canada’s Governor General, and then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He will then deliver a speech to officials, indigenous representatives and the diplomatic corps.

Francis has been welcomed to Canada and his apology for the church’s role in boarding has been hailed as historic, although many Indigenous people who have spoken to AFP have warned there is more work to be done.

From the late 19th century through the 1990s, the Canadian government sent some 150,000 children to 139 Church-run boarding schools, cut off from family, language, and culture.

Many were physically and sexually abused, and thousands are believed to have died from disease, malnutrition, or neglect.

For some, healing had already begun.

Cindy Dearhead, a First Nations woman who was a student at one of the notorious schools, said she thought the Pope’s apology was “important”.

“It’s taken a long time, but finally a pope admits himself: ‘Yes, I’m sorry,'” she told AFP at Lac Ste. Anne in Alberta, one of North America’s most important pilgrimage sites, as the Pope visited the lake on Tuesday.

But for many others, that healing may depend on what comes next.

“I think the apology was always a thing, part of a reconciliation process. For me, the actions that need to be behind it are very important,” said Chief Peter Powder of the Mikisew Cree First Nations.

On Thursday, Francis will visit the national shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupre, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in North America, and preside at a mass. Later that day he will go to Notre Dame Cathedral in Quebec City to preach a sermon.

On Friday he travels to the Arctic archipelago of Nunavut, where he visits the town of Iqaluit as the final stop of his six-day visit.

Francis suffers from knee pain and often uses a wheelchair. On Tuesday, he appeared tired and frail as he visited the lake, where he asked for healing and sprinkled the assembled believers with water he had blessed.

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