Pope Francis arrived in Canada on Sunday to an honour drum song ahead of what he describes as a “penitential” trip aimed at advancing reconciliation with Indigenous people over the lasting harm suffered in residential schools.
The drum group from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation sang in front of Francis as he sat between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon in an airport hangar at the Edmonton International Airport.
The Pope told reporters on the plane before it landed in Edmonton that the six-day visit must be handled with care.
The pontiff is also set to travel to Quebec City and Iqaluit.
“I hope, with God’s grace, that my penitential pilgrimage might contribute to the journey of reconciliation already undertaken. Please accompany me with prayer,” said a message on the Pope’s Twitter account.
Dear brothers and sisters of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canada?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Canada</a>, I come among you to meet the indigenous peoples. I hope, with God’s grace, that my penitential pilgrimage might contribute to the journey of reconciliation already undertaken. Please accompany me with <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/prayer?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#prayer</a>.
An elevator was used to get the Pope off the plane, and he went for a short ride in a Fiat to the hangar. He then got into a wheelchair and was taken to a red carpet for the official welcoming ceremony.
Treaty Six Grand Chief George Arcand Jr. gave the Pope a beaded medallion and was handed an unknown item in return.
“I hope that this visit is the beginning of a change in history, a change in the way business is going to be done, and a way for us to begin our healing journey,” Arcand Jr. told CBC News after the arrival ceremony.
“More importantly, I asked the Pope to walk with us and create this new road that needs to be created.”
Francis kissed the hand of residential school survivor Alma Desjarlais of the Frog Lake First Nation as she welcomed the Pope along with Grand Chief Greg Desjarlais of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations.
Francis was also greeted by other church, Indigenous and political dignitaries.
Pope Francis was then set to be driven to the St. Joseph Seminary, where he will be staying during the Alberta portion of the trip.
The Pope plans to visit the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School in the community of Maskwacis, south of Edmonton, on Monday. That is where Francis is to deliver his first public statement in Canada and is expected to apologize to Indigenous people for abuses they have suffered.
An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools in Canada, where neglect and physical and sexual abuse were rampant. More than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Roman Catholic Church.
On Sunday, Grand Chief Desjarlais said his thoughts were with those who did not make it home from residential schools — and with those who survived them.
Desjarlais said he’s optimistic about the apology, but the fact remains that generations of Indigenous people in Canada have been traumatized, he said.
“Now I hope the world will see why our people are so hurt,” he told reporters.
“When you own up to a wrong, that’s when reconciliation can start.”
Vicki Arcand, an elder of Alexander First Nation and a residential school survivor, said she feels the Pope’s visit is long overdue. But she hopes it will encourage people to start thinking differently and try to deal with their past trauma.
“Maybe [the Pope’s visit] is something that should have happened many, many years ago. Maybe the start of reconciliation would have started then,” she said.
‘This is an important historical moment’
Arcand Jr. said last week that survivors have been carrying unimaginable trauma for many generations. The Pope’s acknowledgement of their pain is a crucial step, he said.
“This is an important historical moment for survivors of the residential school system and the harm caused by the Catholic Church,” Arcand Jr. said.
RoseAnne Archibald, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said she is looking forward to the apology but feels the focus on survivors has gotten lost during the organization of the Pope’s visit.
“[The church] has not been including us in the proper planning of this trip. It has been very unilateral, and we don’t feel it has been about survivors,” Archibald said, referring, for example, to the church trying to raise funds through tickets at a mass this week.
“We have to refocus on what we’re really doing here — and that’s about survivors … listening to that apology from the Pope.”
On April 1, after meetings over several days with First Nations, Inuit and Métis groups at the Vatican, Francis apologized for the deplorable conduct of some church members involved in residential schools and promised to visit Canada.
Indigenous delegates had told the Pope they wanted an apology on Canadian soil.
First Nations leaders in Alberta said they expect the Pope’s presence to open old wounds for Indigenous people and that mental health counsellors will be at the sites. But they also hope the visit will be a step toward reconciliation.
“We are here with you and we are supporting you,” Louis Bull Tribe Chief Desmond Bull told survivors last week.
Archibald said she hopes there are enough mental health supports for people who listen to the Pope’s anticipated apology because it will trigger a lot of pain and raw emotion — on the day of, as well as the future.
The Ermineskin school south of Edmonton was one of the largest of the institutions in Canada. Organizers of the papal visit have said they expect about 15,000 people will be at Maskwacis to see the 85-year-old pontiff.
Later Monday, Francis is to meet parishioners of an inner-city church in Edmonton. A large outdoor mass at the city’s football stadium is scheduled for Tuesday. The Pope then heads to nearby Lac Ste. Anne to take part in an annual pilgrimage.
Francis is to travel on Wednesday to Quebec City and deliver a public address following meetings with Trudeau and Simon. The following day, another large mass is scheduled in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
The visit is set to finish on Friday in Iqaluit before Francis heads back to the Vatican.
Organizers have said that due to the Pope’s age and physical limitations, he will take part in public events for about an hour and will use a wheelchair throughout the tour.
Shortly after departing from Rome, the Pope used a cane to help him move around the airplane as he greeted individual reporters.
“I believe I can make it,” he joked.
Thousands have travelled from different parts of the country to take part in the events.
Mabel Brown, a 77-year-old residential school survivor, journeyed to Edmonton from Inuvik to hear the Pope apologize and find forgiveness and healing with other survivors. She hopes it’s an opportunity to move forward in a good way.
“This is a very important time in history,” she said. “Better things are yet to come.”
Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential schools and those who are triggered by the latest reports. The Indian Residential School Survivors Society can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066.
A national Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former students and those affected. Access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.
Canada boosts capacity of key supply hub for weapons to Ukraine – CBC News
Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canada is boosting its capacity at a key transportation hub in Scotland, so weapons and other supplies can more easily be shipped to Ukraine and other countries in eastern Europe.
Canadian forces have been responsible for delivering four million pounds of cargo since March, and the Prestwick, Scotland hub will now be expanded into an air mobility detachment with a third CC-130 aircraft and 55 Canadian Armed Forces members present.
“We are expanding the ways in which we are assisting Ukraine and getting military aid to Ukraine by delivering even more aid,” Anand told CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton in an interview airing Sunday.
CBC News reported earlier this week Ukraine has written to the Canadian government to request armoured vehicles, howitzers and winter clothing.
Canada has promised to deliver 39 armoured troop carriers, and Anand said she’d be meeting with industry partners in Canada to talk about the issue of supply.
Anand said NATO countries are all trying to strike a balance between arms shipments to Ukraine and maintaining supplies to their own armed forces.
“This is front and centre in my mind,” she said.
Canada must say yes to Ukraine: Rae
Canada has committed or delivered $626 million in military aid to Ukraine since February.
Asked about Ukraine’s list of weapons requests in an interview on CBC Radio’s The House that aired Saturday, UN Ambassador Bob Rae said Canada would be hard pressed to deny the asks.
“It may be a career-limiting move for me to say this, but I don’t believe we could say anything less than yes,” Rae said.
“That’s been my consistent advice to whoever, whoever, whoever is listening. Obviously, governments have to decide the pace at which they can do it.”
LISTEN | UN Ambassador Bob Rae discusses latest developments in Ukraine war:
Some NATO countries have struggled to strike the balance Anand described Sunday, due in part to a lack of robust inventory.
“Since the end of the Cold War, not only have allies considerably restructured their armed forces, they also don’t hold the stockpiles anymore that they used to have,” Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, told CBC News earlier this week.
“And so, effectively, most of what you ended up giving away today comes out of your current stockpile. So this is equipment that you’re actually going to be actively short.”
The calls for more aid from Ukraine come as offensives in both the country’s east and south continue, but also as Russia announced a partial mobilization to bring hundreds of thousands more soldiers into its ranks. Russian President Vladimir Putin also threatened this week that Russia was prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend itself.
Russia also announced and rapidly began referendums in occupied Ukrainian territories.
Anand said Putin’s decision to raise the threat of nuclear war and mobilization were “acts of desperation.”
Atlantic Canada begins assessing, cleaning up damage from Fiona – CBC.ca
People across Atlantic Canada are beginning to assess the damage and clean up after post-tropical storm Fiona swept through the region Saturday.
As of 9 a.m., remnants of Fiona are over southeastern Labrador and have merged with a trough — a long region of low atmospheric pressure.
Fiona spent early Sunday morning moving inland in southeastern Quebec as a post-tropical storm, according to Environment Canada. It’s expected to dissipate over the Labrador Sea.
The agency said winds were at 80 km/h and all wind warnings associated with the storm have ended.
In Newfoundland, some homes were washed away or flattened, others were flooded, roads were washed out and people were evacuated. The damage was most striking in Port aux Basques, where boulders and debris were scattered across the community.
On Sunday morning, CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler said the bulk of the damage in Port aux Basques was caused by storm surge.
The Salvation Army has co-ordinated an emergency shelter for people displaced from their homes in the Port aux Basques area at the local school.
In Nova Scotia, hundreds of thousands of customers were without power on Sunday, and the Canadian Armed Forces has been called in to help restore electricity.
Nova Scotia Power president Peter Gregg said in a statement Sunday that the utility knows “there will be customers who face outages for multiple days” given the damage created by the storm.
Two municipalities in Cape Breton declared a state of emergency. The fastest winds clocked in at 171 km/h in Arisaig, just north of Antigonish.
Ottawa has also approved Nova Scotia’s request for funding for disaster assistance to help municipalities repair damaged infrastructure, and to assist individuals and small businesses pay for uninsured losses
On Prince Edward Island, winds hit 150 km/h and almost 100 millimetres of rain fell, homes and businesses were damaged and flooded, and at one point about 95 per cent of Maritime Electric customers had lost electricity.
Premier Dennis King said Sunday that his province’s road to recovery “will be weeks or longer” since the damage may have been “the worst we’ve ever seen” from a tropical storm.
Residents in Charlottetown are now being asked to stay off the roads and shelter in place after the storm rushed over the Island.
In New Brunswick, roads were flooded, a bridge was destroyed and tens of thousands were without electricity. Residents there are also being asked to stay away from dangerous, storm-ravaged areas.
Bill Hogan, the province’s public safety minister, said it will take time to fully calculate the damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona, but he expects help will be made available to affected residents.
Power outages are still widespread on Sunday morning, with more than 365,000 customers in the dark across the four Atlantic provinces, including more than 260,000 in Nova Scotia.
Officials across Eastern Canada set to begin assessing full scope of storm damage
After hammering Atlantic Canada, post-tropical storm Fiona has moved inland in southeastern Quebec, with Environment Canada saying the storm will continue to weaken as it tracks across southeastern Labrador and over the Labrador Sea.
As of 6 a.m. local time, nearly 267,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were still affected by outages, 82,414 Maritime Electric customers remained in the dark and more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick were without power, with some provincial utility companies warning it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.
Newfoundland Power reported outages affecting more than 3,600 customers, as high-end tropical storm force winds knocked down trees and power lines, although Environment Canada said winds would diminish in the morning.
In an early Sunday morning update, Environment Canada said strong winds continued over the northern Newfoundland, southeastern Labrador and parts of southeastern Quebec.
A wind warning remained in effect for the western part of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, while storm warnings are in place for parts of the Northeast Gulf and Strait of Belle Isle marine areas.
As Fiona continued to weaken, government officials across Eastern Canada prepared to survey the full scope of the damage left behind.
Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston, along with several members of his cabinet, were scheduled to tour some of the hardest hit areas of Cape Breton by helicopter Sunday morning.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who cancelled his planned visit to Japan for the state funeral of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, said he will visit as soon as possible, while noting he doesn’t want to displace any emergency teams who are focused on important work on the ground.
Defence Minister Anita Anand said Saturday members of the Canadian Armed Forces had begun preparing to respond before receiving the request for assistance from Nova Scotia, and troops will be deployed to other provinces that ask for help.
No details were provided on the number of troops being deployed, but Anand said reconnaissance was underway to ensure they go where and when they are needed most.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2022.
The Canadian Press
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