Pope Francis committing to ‘journey of justice’, says Metis leader at Vatican meeting

The president of the Metis National Council says she feels Pope Francis has committed to a journey of justice after a meeting with the head of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican.

“He repeated ‘truth, justice and healing’ and I take that as a personal commitment,” said Cassidy Caron outside St. Peter’s Square Monday morning.

Caron said the Pope did not provide an apology for the church’s role in residential schools. But, she added, they have always requested it take place on Canadian soil.

The eight Metis delegates spent an hour with the pontiff where three survivors shared their stories of residential schools.

Read more: ‘Let’s think big’: Historic Indigenous delegation arrives in Rome to meet Pope Francis

Angie Crerar, 85, has said that when she was in a residential school, she knew what was happening wasn’t right. She wanted to tell the person in charge — the one at the top. Now, almost 80 years later, she finally did.

Story continues below advertisement

“They did not break us. We are still here and we intend to live here forever,” said Crerar, who is from Grande Prairie, Alta.

She said it felt truly amazing to speak with the Pope about her experiences. She said he seemed kind and receptive.

Click to play video: 'Metis experiences at residential schools' Metis experiences at residential schools

Metis experiences at residential schools

The group also presented him with a pair of red, beaded moccasins as a sign of the Metis people’s willingness to forgive if there is meaningful action. The red represents the traditional red papal shoes, the group explained, and that Francis walks with the legacy of those who came before him — including the terrible parts.

Pixie Wells, from Fraser Valley, B.C., said she was proud to be a two spirit person in the room with the Pope. She said that homophobia is directly connected to colonization and residential schools.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are bringing back that cultural component of being a two spirit individual,” Wells said. “We were leaders, healers in our communities… that was my power in that room for every other two spirit person.”

Read more: Inuit leader not celebrating meeting with Pope Francis, his agenda is to ‘seek justice’

The Inuit group was set to speak with Francis after.

Natan Obed, the president of the national organization representing Inuit people, has said he hopes it’s an opportunity to get justice and hold accountable members of the church who harmed Indigenous children.

First Nations delegates will meet with the pontiff on Thursday.

Click to play video: 'Indigenous delegates head to Rome seeking papal apology' Indigenous delegates head to Rome seeking papal apology

Indigenous delegates head to Rome seeking papal apology

All three groups of delegates will then gather with the Pope on Friday. All have expressed an expectation that he will commit to apologizing for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools during a trip to Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools, more than 60 per cent of which were run by the Catholic Church.

A total of 32 Indigenous elders, leaders, survivors and youth are taking part in the Vatican meetings. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which organized and is paying for the delegation, is also sending a handful of members.

Rev. Raymond Poisson, the group’s president, has said he expects the meetings to allow Pope Francis to address the ongoing trauma and legacy of suffering faced by Indigenous people to this day.

“As well as the role of the Catholic Church in the residential school system, which contributed to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality,” he said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

View original article here Source