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For abuse survivors fighting to heal, Pope’s visit to Canada is ‘not enough’

#abuse #survivors #fighting #heal #Popes #visit #Canada

As Pope Francis, in his robes, prepared to celebrate mass at a Canadian shrine on Thursday, a young Indigenous woman stood outside in a bright orange beaded dress sewn with dozens of tiny metal cones.

Abigail Brooks is a jingle dress dancer – an Indigenous woman whose dancing in traditional dress is believed to have healing properties.

“It is very important to be here, especially in my jingle dress, to offer strength and any emotional and traditional support that our survivors and elders will need,” the 23-year-old told AFP outside Sainte-Anne-de -Beaupre Banks of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, Eastern Canada.

Thousands of mainly indigenous people gathered to see the Pope there. Nearby, volunteers burned sage leaves before waving the smoke with feathers, a traditional ritual used to heal psychological trauma. A healer recited incantations and held a woman’s arm as a tear slid down her cheek.

Healing was a key theme of the Pope’s visit to Canada this week, where he asked forgiveness from the country’s Indigenous, Metis and Inuit people for decades of abuse at Catholic-run schools.

For almost a century, until the 1990s, the Canadian government sent some 150,000 Indigenous children to church-run boarding schools, where they were cut off from family, language and culture.

It was about eradicating their indigenous identity. In addition to the trauma of the separation, many children were physically and sexually abused, and thousands are believed to have died from disease, malnutrition, or neglect.

The trauma has lasted for generations. The Pope’s apology was overwhelming for many.

“It was a shared experience of a release of emotions,” Wocawson, 19, told AFP in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, describing “a lot of tears, you know, a lot of anger, but… a lot of love.” It is wonderful.”

“The truth is out in the open with all the suffering accumulated. Everyone has lived in shame for too long,” said Ghislain Picard, regional director of the Quebec-Labrador First Nations Congregation.

But for many, including Brooks, the apology is “not enough.”

“Nothing was said about the sexual abuse,” she said. “We cannot accept the reconciliation until he acknowledges that.”

She also called for indigenous peoples to be given access to records of what happened in schools to “really understand what happened to our people” – and for the Pope to return indigenous artifacts currently housed in the Vatican Museums .

“That’s going to be part of the reconciliation, to give us back what’s ours,” Brooks says.

– ‘It won’t heal me’ –

The young dancer is not alone in her demands. Indigenous people have repeatedly made it clear that they see the Pope’s visit as just the beginning.

In one of the most dramatic images of his trip so far, as the Pope began celebrating Mass in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre on Wednesday, protesters unfurled a banner just in front of the altar he was standing behind.

It read “Revoke the Doctrine” – referring to the Doctrine of Discovery, the 15th-century papal edicts that authorized European powers to colonize non-Christian lands and peoples.

Everywhere the pope has gone in Canada, voices have called for his repeal.

The writing on the banner faced away from the Pope and was calmly removed shortly thereafter.

Francis has yet to publicly mention the doctrine, artifacts, or sexual abuse on his trip.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement on Thursday saying he had discussed with the Pope the need for the Church to take “concrete action to bring back Indigenous artifacts, provide access to residential school documents and the doctrine of discovery.” address”.

He gave no further details, and while the pope has spoken of his “deep shame” and “deep desire” to respond to the suffering of indigenous people, it was unclear what further steps he might take.

For some, there may be no way through the devastation.

Jimmy Papatie, a 58-year-old survivor of one of the schools, spoke to AFP in tears.

“I’ve lived my whole life in fear because of what I experienced in boarding school,” he said over the phone from his home in Quebec.

“I am convinced that I will never heal … the Pope’s visit – if people need to hear it, fine. But it won’t heal me.”

Brooks, the dancer, says her dress was made “specially for our survivors and those who didn’t come home.”

“With every jingle we tie, we pray for our survivors,” she said.

“It’s a very strong dress.”

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#abuse #survivors #fighting #heal #Popes #visit #Canada

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