Representatives of the Métis Nation after meeting with Pope Francis on Monday 28 March 2022 Representatives of the Métis Nation after meeting with Pope Francis on Monday 28 March 2022 

A historic week of meetings with Canada's Indigenous

The President of the Canadian Bishops' Conference describes the "beautiful" meetings with Pope Francis that took place Monday between the first two delegations of indigenous peoples living in Canada.

By Vatican News staff writer

The six Canadian Bishops accompanying the first two delegations of representatives of the Métis Nation and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami peoples that met Pope Francis yesterday have expressed their happiness over these first encounters of meeting each other, listening, and looking to the future.

Among them is Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He expressed his gratitude “to these delegates for walking with us on this journey, and to Pope Francis for his attention to their suffering and his deeply-held commitment to social justice.”

Looking at the past to heal present and future

The goal of these encounters is to help address both the ongoing trauma and legacy of suffering faced by Indigenous Peoples to this day, as well as the historical role of the Catholic Church in the residential school system, which contributed to the suppression of Indigenous languages, cultures and spiritualities.

Angie Crerar, 85, a residential school survivor.
Angie Crerar, 85, a residential school survivor.

Shortly after yesterday's meeting, Bishop Poisson, spoke to Vatican News' Marine Henriot about the audiences. He described them as "beautiful”. They provided Pope Francis with the chance to listen to their stories, some told by those who suffered in the residential schools. Bishop Poisson underscored that these first meetings are intended as a listening encounter that will lead to follow-up actions. He noted how the Church in Canada is working to take responsibility for the past and to help people today. It is the Indigenous Peoples themselves who have asked the Church for help in together building a better world that respects their cultures and experiences.

Bishop Poisson recalled that the next meeting of the Pope with Indigenous Peoples will take place on Thursday morning, to be followed by a media briefing in the afternoon. A final audience with Pope Francis is scheduled for Friday, April 1st, when the official delegates will be joined by a larger group of Indigenous Peoples from across Canada.

Bishop Poisson noted the possibility of a papal visit to Canada as a way to continue the whole process of healing and reconciliation. He also recalled fundraising underway by the Church in Canada to support national reconciliation projects across the nation. He hopes that these efforts will contribute not only to help heal past wounds, but to also bring appreciation for the cultures and peoples supported. He concludes this is all something "we must do together." 

Listen to interview with Canadian Bishop Raymond Poisson
The Métis delegation after their meeting with Pope Francis
29 March 2022, 16:45