An indigenous woman near Grayson, Saskatchewan An indigenous woman near Grayson, Saskatchewan 

Canadian indigenous delegation to visit Vatican in late March

Pope Francis is expected to meet with 30 indigenous delegates from March 28 until April 1 to discuss abuses in Church-run residential schools in Canada.

By Vatican News staff writer

The Canadian Catholic Bishops and three organizations representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis have announced that a planned visit to Rome by an indigenous delegation to meet with Pope Francis has been rescheduled to the end of March.

Visit expected from 28 March-1 April

According to a joint statement issued on Tuesday, Pope Francis is to meet with 30 indigenous delegates from 28 March 28 until 1 April, when a final audience  with all participants will take place. The delegates are to include indigenous elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, and youth. Six Canadian bishops are also expected to attend.

The meeting was originally expected in December 2021, but had to be postponed due to a flare-up in the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"The health and safety of all delegates remain our first priority," the statement said. "In the weeks ahead, we will monitor conditions leading up to the revised travel dates and continue our dialogue with delegates, public health officials as well as the relevant government and international authorities, traveling only when we feel it is safe to do so."

Abuses in indigeous residential schools 

During their time in Rome, indigenous delegates will discuss abuses in Church-run residential schools, which over 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children were forced to attend between the 1870s and 1997 to be assimilated into Euro-Canadian culture.

The discovery of hundreds of remains and unmarked graves on the grounds of three former Catholic-run residential school during Summer 2021 has drawn new public attention to this tragedy.

In September, Canada's Bishops issued a formal statement of apology, and pledged $30 million dollars to support the healing and reconciliation process.

Last week, the CCCB also announced the establishment of an Indigenous Reconciliation Fund which will accept contributions granted to this end by the 73 dioceses across the country.

In Monday's statement, the Bishops riaffirmed their commitment “to walking toward healing and reconciliation”.

02 February 2022, 17:59