facebook app symbol  twitter  linkedin  instagram 1

Pope Francis landed in Québec City, Québec, on Wednesday afternoon, on the second stop of his apology tour to Indidgenous Peoples across Canada for the “evil committed by so many Christians” during the residential boarding school era.

The eastern portion of his six day trip, following Edmonton and preceding Nunavut, had a larger emphasis on government than the days prior.

Around 5pm EST, the Pope arrived at the Citadelle of Québec. He first met privately with Governor General Mary Simon, an Inuk woman and the first ever Indigenous person to hold the role. Afterwards, the Pope had a ten minute private conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

Afterwards, Trudeau, Simon, and Pope Francis all gave addresses to more than 50 Indigenous residential school survivors, elders, knowledge keepers, and Canadian dignitaries. 

“I acknowledge and applaud what has been achieved–what Indigenous communities have achieved with this week's visit,” Governor General Mary Simon said to the crowd. “It is Indigenous peoples who worked to pave a way for an apology on Indigenous lands in Canada. We must remember that it is because of their courage and resilience that we are here today”

Simon referenced the Pope’s own words from his visit to the Sacred Heart church in Edmonton on Monday. “There, you said that reconciliation is a grace that must be sought. To that, I would also add that reconciliation is a grace that must be earned through continuous hard work and understanding.”

Pope Francis, seated at the front of the room beside Simon, delivered an apology once again to the Indingeous communities in Canada.

“I express my deep shame and sorrow and, together with the bishops of this country, I renew my request for forgiveness for the wrongs done by so many Christians to the Indigenous peoples.”

He said that the Holy See and the local Catholic communities “are concretely committed to promoting Indigenous cultures in specific and appropriate spiritual ways that include attention to their cultural traditions, customs, languages, and educational processes in the spirit of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Indigenous leaders and audience members were not given an opportunity to address the Pope at all, Kenneth Deer of the Mohawk Nation told Native News Online, from the ground in Québec. 

Deer is part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of Six Nations—whose total territory stretches from northeastern New York into southeastern Ontario and southwestern Québec. The Confederacy was invited last minute to speak with the Pope. Deer and three other Haudenosaunee External Relations Committee members had planned to ask the Pope to revoke the Papal Bulls, official decrees issued by Pope Alexander the VI in 1493 that make up the Doctrine of Discovery. The Doctrine of Discovery gave European explorers authorization to seize land that was not populated by Christians “and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery.”

“That’s what we're here for. We’re not here about the apology,” Deer told Native News Online. “We weren’t able to present to the Pope, and we’re not happy about it.”

Deer said they're going to try to find a time in the next few days to meet with the Pope before he departs for Nunvut on Friday afternoon.

“We haven’t given up,” Deer said. “And some people are sympathetic to our efforts.”

More Stories Like This

Indigenous Journalists Association President Addresses Members of the UNPFII
Inter-Tribal Council Passes Resolution Urging FCC to Establish Specific Event Code for Missing and Endangered Persons
Native News Weekly (April 21 2024): D.C. Briefs
Q+A: Journalist Connie Walker Reflects on Season 3 of 'Stolen' Podcast Investigating Navajo Nation MMIP Cases
Native Bidaské with Sarah Eagle Heart (Oglála Lakota) on the Indigenous Fashion Collective

Native Perspective.  Native Voices.  Native News. 

We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers.  We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Senior Reporter
Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.