A plane carrying Pope Francis landed in Quebec’s capital city on Wednesday for the next leg of what the pontiff described as a “penitential” Canadian trip focused on addressing damage to indigenous residential schools.
The pope left Edmonton on Wednesday morning and arrived in Quebec City by mid-afternoon, where he is expected to meet with Governor General Mary Simon and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Citadel of Quebec, before giving a speech. public with Simon.
Francis, in a wheelchair, was greeted on the tarmac by residential school survivors, indigenous leaders and other dignitaries, including Quebec Premier Francois Legault.
People were already setting up lawn chairs by 10 a.m. on the Plains of Abraham, where the pontiff is expected to greet the public from his popemobile later on Wednesday. There was a heavy police presence on the premises, where concerts and other artistic performances were taking place throughout the afternoon.
For residential school survivor Omer St-Onge, the pope’s visit represents a “small step” on a journey of healing.
But St-Onge, who hails from the Uashat-Maliotenam Innu community on Quebec’s north coast, said she expects more than an apology.
“It is time for the pope to decide to return artifacts to us, objects that were taken from us and that are all in the Vatican and in churches, documents about young people who died,” said St-Onge, whose birth name is Uapan Ushekatok.
Fabien Jaubert, also from Uashat-Maliotenam, said he had come to honor the memory of the survivors of the residential school, including his grandmother and aunts.
“I am waiting for an apology from the Pope,” he said in an interview on the Plains of Abraham before the pontiff’s arrival. “I’d like to hear him do one on behalf of the church, rather than just certain actors.”
Official events in Quebec have been slightly delayed after a separate flight carrying the organizers and invited indigenous leaders to the Citadel was delayed.
After visiting the Plains of Abraham, the Pope will go to the residence of the archbishop of Quebec, where he plans to stay during his stay in the province.
On Thursday, Francis will celebrate Mass at the shrine of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, east of the city, and then attend vespers with church officials at the Notre-Dame Cathedral-Basilica of Quebec.
On Friday, he will make a short stop in Iqaluit before returning home to the Vatican.
The Alberta portion of the pope’s trip included a visit to the indigenous community of Maskwacis, south of Edmonton.
Standing there before residential school survivors and indigenous leaders, he apologized for abuses at the institutions, most of which were run by the Roman Catholic Church.
Francis also led a public outdoor Mass at Edmonton’s football stadium, which some criticized as too traditional.
He later joined a pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne, northwest of Edmonton, a site of spiritual importance to many indigenous Catholics that is believed to have healing properties. Francis blessed the lake and sprinkled some of its water on the people in the crowd.
The Pope’s Twitter account posted on Tuesday, after the visit to the pilgrimage site, that “as a Church, we all need to be healed of the temptation to choose to defend the institution rather than seek the truth.”
“With the help of God, let us contribute to the building of a Mother Church that is to your liking. .Indigenous Peoples .Canada”.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 27, 2022.
— With archives by Frederic Lacroix-Couture