Jul 24, 2022 - World

Pope arrives in Canada ahead of expected apology to Indigenous groups

Pope Francis greets members of an Indigenous tribe during his welcoming ceremony at Edmonton International Airport in Alberta, western Canada, on July 24. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis arrived in Canada on Sunday for what he called a "penitential pilgrimage" addressing the Catholic Church's role in the abuse of generations of Indigenous children at Canadian residential schools.

What he's saying: "This is a trip of penance. Let's say that is its spirit," the pope told reporters Sunday, per Reuters.

A screenshot of Pope Francis' tweet expressing hope "that my penitential pilgrimage might contribute to the journey of reconciliation already undertaken."
Photo: Pope Francis/Twitter

Details: Francis' papal plane arrived at the Edmonton International Airport in the western province of Alberta, where he was met by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor-General Mary Simon, The Canadian Press reports.

  • They sat either side of the pontiff as a drum group from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation performed a song.

The big picture: Hundreds of suspected unmarked graves have in recent months been discovered on the sites of children forced to "assimilate" into white society from the 19th to the late 20th centuries.

  • The pope apologized publicly in April for abuses at the schools, which Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has described as "cultural genocide."

What's next: A focal point of Francis' Canada trip is his expected apology to Indigenous peoples when he attends a former residential school on Monday.

  • He's also due to visit Québec's capital and Iqaluit, the capital of the territory of Nunavut, later in the week before departing Friday.
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