What to know about Pope Francis’ visit to Canada

Pope Francis will embark on a visit to Canada on Sunday, where he is expected to apologize for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system.

This is the first papal visit to the country in 20 years. Here’s what you need to know about the Pope’s six-day tour of Canada.


Pope Francis is scheduled land at Edmonton International Airport on July 24 and attend a welcoming ceremony.

The next day, he will meet with residential school survivors from across Canada at Maskwacis, Alta., home to the former Ermineskin Residential School. This is the only visit to a residential school on the Pope’s itinerary. Later that day, he will meet with parishioners and members of the indigenous community at Church of the Sacred Heart of the First Peoples in Edmonton, which recently reopened after a fire in 2020.

On July 26, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium before greeting indigenous pilgrims at Lac Ste. Anne’s pilgrimage groups.

The Pope will leave for Quebec City on July 27, where he will meet with Governor General Mary Simon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Citadel of Quebec, as well as indigenous leaders and other dignitaries.

He will also officiate mass at the National Shrine of Saint Anne of Beaupré the following day before meeting with an indigenous delegation from Quebec and flying to Iqaluit on July 29.

At a primary school in Iqaluit, the pope will have another private meeting with survivors of indigenous residential schools before attending a public community event organized by Inuit leaders. Pope Francis is scheduled to fly back to Rome later that night.


Pope Francis’ visit comes after First Nations, Metis and Inuit delegations met with the pontiff in Rome in March to discuss reconciliation with indigenous communities in Canada.

At the end of this series of meetings, the Pope read an apology in front of the delegates, asking God for forgiveness for the “deplorable conduct” of the members of the Catholic Church.

Pressure on the Pope to come to Canada and issue an apology had mounted after the discovery of 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops BC last year, which was followed by similar discoveries at many other former residential school sites. in all the country.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that approximately 150,000 indigenous children attended the residential school system, mostly forcibly, from the late 19th century to 1996.

Of the 139 schools in the system, more than half had been run by the Catholic Church. The commission estimates that approximately 4,100 to 6,000 children died of abuse and neglect while in the residential school system.

The commission’s 58th call to action urges the Pope to issue an apology on Canadian soil for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system.


The federal government is spending more than $35 million for the papal visit. The Indigenous Services of Canada and Indigenous Crown Relations are spending $30.5 million for community-led activities and ceremonies and to help with travel costs for survivors.

Another $3 million is being spent to support indigenous communities in the three regions the Pope is visiting, while $2 million is being spent to

the alberta government he is also spending up to $20 million for the visit. Much of this money goes towards road and infrastructure improvements in Lac Ste. Ana and Maskwacis.

With archives from CTV News Edmonton, Michael Lee of CTVNews.ca, Brooklyn Neustaeter and The Canadian Press.

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