On his final stop in a landmark tour apologizing for the abuse of Indigenous children in Catholic-run schools.
The 85-year-old pontiff made a speech first to a delegation of Indigenous peoples in Quebec City, where he told them he was “returning home greatly enriched… I also feel a part of your family.”
Later, he is to travel to the vast northern territory’s capital, Iqaluit, which means “the place of many fish.”
There, he will first meet with survivors of the residential school system — which saw Indigenous children separated from their families, language and culture in a bid to stamp out their identity — before appearing at a public event hosted by the Inuit.
Residents in Iqaluit, where small houses line the rocky ocean shore, have listened closely to the pope’s words so far on his trip.
“It’s not going to solve anything, but an apology to the world, it means a lot to us. It does,” Iqaluit stay-at-home mother Elisapee Nooshoota, 36, told AFP in the community of just over 7,000 people on Thursday.
‘Should be doing more’
From the late 1800s to the 1990s, Canada’s government sent about 150,000 children into 139 residential schools run by the Catholic Church. Many were physically and sexually abused, and thousands are believed to have died of disease, malnutrition or neglect.
The pope kicked off his trip to Canada on Monday with an apology for the abuse.
While survivors have said his words were overwhelming, many have made clear they see the apology as only the beginning of a process of healing and reconciliation.
“They should be doing more by having counseling, wellness centers, recovery,” said Iqaluit resident Israel Mablick, a 43-year-old survivor of one of the schools.