Canadians Plan Indigenous Group to Visit Pope

Pastoral Visit to Include Diverse Group of Elders / 'Knowledge Keepers', Residential School Survivors and Youth

Canadians Plan Indigenous Group to Visit Pope
Pope JohnPaul II Visited Indigenous Canadians during a 1984 Trip -- CCCB
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The Catholic Bishops of Canada said June 10, 2021, the plan for an indigenous group to visit Pope Francis has moved forward. The bishops said they are committed to making the visit by the end of the year.

“The recent discovery of children’s remains at a burial site at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, reminds us of a painful past and a legacy that endures,” according to the statement by the bishops. “With the strong encouragement of Pope Francis, the Bishops of Canada are committed to renewing and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the country.

“In conversation with indigenous people and communities, both at the local and national level, and bilaterally with the national organizations of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, the bishops, promoters of the project, have been preparing, for more than two years now, a delegation of Indigenous people to meet the Holy Father and experience significant moments of dialogue and healing.”

Following is the full statement:

With all their hearts, the Catholic Bishops of Canada are very much involved in taking real meaningful actions with Indigenous Peoples for a future filled with greater respect and cooperation. The recent discovery of children’s remains at a burial site at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia, reminds us of a painful past and a legacy that endures. With the strong encouragement of Pope Francis, the Bishops of Canada are committed to renewing and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the country. In recent years, regional and diocesan listening circles have taken place across the country to hear the stories of local indigenous communities and their hopes for the future.

In conversation with indigenous people and communities, both at the local and national level, and bilaterally with the national organizations of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, the bishops, promoters of the project, have been preparing, for more than two years now, a delegation of Indigenous people to meet the Holy Father and experience significant moments of dialogue and healing. This pastoral visit will include the participation of a diverse group of elders / ‘knowledge keepers’, residential school survivors, and youth from across the country. The event will also offer Pope Francis a unique opportunity to hear directly from Indigenous peoples, to express his sincere closeness, to address the impact of colonization and the Church’s involvement in residential schools,

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 slowed down this project; however, the bishops remain committed to moving forward with the delegation before the end of 2021, in accordance with international travel guidelines.

The delegation to the Holy See represents an important step on the path of reconciliation and healing shared by Indigenous Peoples and the Church in Canada. Pope Francis, in his Angelus message of June 6, 2021, spoke of the shocking discovery of children’s remains at the former Kamloops residential school and, while expressing sadness and solidarity, stressed the importance of ”  to walk side by side in dialogue and in mutual respect in the recognition of the rights and cultural values ​​of all the sons and daughters of Canada ”. We hope that these upcoming meetings – and the important collaboration and partnership that have supported the planning – will lead to a shared future of peace and harmony between Indigenous peoples and the Catholic Church in Canada.



Jim Fair has spent the past two decades as a communicator for Catholic organizations. He is a convert to the Catholic faith and is grateful to his wife, Charmaine, for her continuing efforts to save his soul. They have a son and daughter, both happily married, and four grandchildren. Before devoting his life full-time to things Catholic, Jim enjoyed a 23-year career in various communications roles for large corporations. Before that, he worked as a newspaper reporter, photographer, and editor. He has served as president of the Chicago Public Relations Forum, chairman of the American Petroleum Institute General Committee on Communications, and a fellow of Greater Leadership Chicago. He was a member of the founding committee of the chemical industry’s Responsible Care Program. Jim is an active member of St. John Vianney Parish in Northlake, Illinois, where he chairs the finance council.
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