World Pope Francis expected to give historic apology in Canada...

Pope Francis expected to give historic apology in Canada for abuses at Christian schools

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Pope Francis boards a flight bound for Canada on Sunday in Rome, Italy. The five-day trip is the first papal visit to Canada in 20 years. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/EPA-EFE

July 25 (BP) — Pope Francis will give a historic apology in Canada on Monday for decades of physical and sexual abuse and suppression at Catholic schools across the country.

The pope will visit the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School south of Edmonton and apologize for the abuses against tens of thousands of Indigenous people, who were taken from their families and put in the schools in an effort to make them conform to Christian society.

The remarks will be Francis’ first on the abuse at the schools, where an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend from 1847 to 1947. More than 60% of the schools were run by the Roman Catholic Church. The last school closed in 1997.

The schools, funded by the Canadian government, were created to assimilate indigenous peoples into the dominant Canadian culture.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which was organized as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, issued a report in 2015 finding that at least 3,200 children were reported to have died over the 140 years that the schools operated.

Students are seen at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, in 1937. A mass grave was recently found at the school’s former site that contained the bodies of more than 200 children. The school operated from 1890 through 1978. File Photo by National Center for Truth and Reconciliation/EPA-EFE

Francis arrived in Edmonton on Sunday and was greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor-General Mary Simon. He is expected to meet with the leaders of indigenous groups this week.

“I hope that this visit is the beginning of a change in history, a change in the way business is going to be done, and a way for us to begin our healing journey,” Treaty Six Grand Chief George Arcand Jr. told CBC News.

“More importantly, I asked the Pope to walk with us and create this new road that needs to be created.”

Elder Fernie Marty of the Sacred Heart First Peoples Church in Edmonton said it was important for Pope Francis to be focused on creating an atmosphere of healing during the visit to Canada.

“It’s exciting and a little nerve-wracking with all the media and stuff, but most of all I’m good with everything,” Marty said according to Vatican News. “Him being here in Canada where all the atrocities happened; that’s is very, very important.”

The last papal trip to Canada occurred when Pope John Paul II made a visit in July 2002.

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