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Pope apologizes for residential schools anew as Canada tour ends in Iqaluit

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at Aug 01 2022 08:51 PM

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A big turnout of Iqaluit residents welcomed Pope Francis on the last day of what has been called his 'pilgrimage of penance' to Canada.

Iqaluit, a city in the Arctic, is home to just about 8,000 people and more than half of the population are Inuit. Many of the Inuit are residential school survivors.

The Pope met with more than a hundred Inuits and listened to their stories.

"Some of the people in that meeting felt that the Pope was even shocked by what he heard. He didn't know how bad it had been for many of them. And he even said in his official comments, I had not imagined the suffering," Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson noted.

The Pope apologized to the survivors and he hopes he will be able to bring healing to the indigenous peoples of Canada.

"I want to tell you how very sorry I am and to beg for forgiveness for the evil perpetrated by not a few Catholics," Francis said.

According to Patterson, Inuit children were forcibly taken away from their families, and suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse in the hands of priests and nuns. He shared what the Pope's apology means to the survivors.

"He came across as a very caring, humble, concerned man, and there are many who say he's not the villain here. It was others before him in another era. And overall, there's gratitude that this rather frail man who has difficulty walking, made this very long journey," the senator stressed.

Filipinos living in Iqaluit were among those who gathered at the public event to listen to the Pope. Some even had the privilege of singing for the Pontiff.

"They were invited in saying the Lord's Prayer in Inuktitut, that's the language spoken in Nunavut. And so they had an opportunity to sing the Lord's Prayer in front of the Holy Father. And the Holy Father watched them and also participated," Deacon Rodney Suclan of the Our Lady of the Assumption in Iqaluit said.

Suclan believes the Pope's presence in Iqaluit has strengthened the faith of Filipino Catholics in the city.

He added, "I saw people, especially the elders, were crying. So what it really means to them is the apology, because they felt that the apology delivered by our Holy Father was sincere."

The Pope left the granite and seal-skin chair that he sat on to the church in Iqaluit as a gift and a reminder of his visit to the Arctic city.