Pope Francis asks for forgiveness during meeting with Manitoba Métis delegation

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness from a Métis delegation from Manitoba Thursday, for the harms caused by residential schools.

In turn, Manitoba Métis leaders pressed for a renewed bond with the church, following the private meeting with the Pope at the Vatican.

Manitoba Métis Federation President David Chartrand led the group at the meeting.

“My message from my people, let’s walk together,” said Chartrand.

Chartrand said the Pope apologized for the deplorable experiences at residential and day schools and also asked for forgiveness, and from those present, to pray for him.

“For him to ask for prayer from us was something that touched our hearts,” said Chartrand.

The meeting comes following an apology from the Pope earlier this month after a gathering with First Nations, Inuit, and other Métis leaders.

It’s estimated that 150,000 Indigenous students were separated from their families and sent to residential schools, many run by the church. Survivors have shared stories of severe abuse and neglect. One of those survivors, Andrew Carrier, was part of the Métis delegation.

“We had an opportunity to really connect with the Pope and I feel blessed that we had this opportunity,” said Carrier.

Despite the historic atrocities, The Métis delegates say they want a new relationship with the church so they can connect spiritually.

“We need to overcome the pain and go forward,” said Carrier.

Chartrand said he asked the Pope to come to Manitoba, to bless Louis Riel’s grave.

“Our connection is very deep, and Riel of course everybody knows was strongly, strongly connected to the Catholic Church,” said Chartrand.

The Pope has indicated he will come to Canada, possibly this year.

St. Boniface Museum Director Cindy Desrochers said Indigenous communities would be honored to host the Pope.

“I think the list is way too long for him to be able to visit everyone. If he is able to make it to Winnipeg,” said Desrochers, “I’m sure he would be well received”

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