Edmonton, Alberta, Jul 26, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today the Métis National Council (MNC), alongside its Governing Members and Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak (LFMO), welcome Pope Francis to Canada, and to the Métis Homeland as he arrives in Edmonton, Alberta.
As Pope Francis embarks on his penitential pilgrimage, the focus of the Métis National Council, its Governing Members and LFMO will be on supporting Métis Survivors, intergenerational survivors, their families and communities. The Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s Residential School system cannot be understated. In consultation with Métis Survivors over the last year, it is the wish of many that a full papal apology will occur on our Homeland, as well as commitment to action on truth and reconciliation.
At the outset of this week, it must be acknowledged that this papal visit is but just one step of a healing process. Reconciliation is more than this visit and apology. Rather, it is a long road that must be walked by the Church, federal, provincial, and territorial governments, and the people of Canada, while following the lead of the Survivors and people directly impacted by the Church’s actions.
In preparation for this Papal Visit, the MNC, the Governing Members, and LFMO have worked collaboratively to ensure that events are focused on Survivors, Elders, and their families. As a result, over 400 Métis Survivors and Intergenerational Survivors will travel from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and the NorthWest Territories, to attend the Papal events held in Edmonton early this week.
While the planning of the Papal visit has been tightly controlled by the Vatican and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the MNC will continue to work with its partners to ensure that the healing path is Survivor-led and focused – and that all Indigenous peoples get the support and justice they deserve.
The Métis Nation is one Nation of many stories. We will continue to work closely to ensure that the voices and stories of Métis Survivors, Elders, families, and communities are heard. The MNC, the Governing Members, and LFMO will continue to support all Survivors while calling for the Church and Canada to fully recognize the impacts of Residential Schools on Métis peoples.
Later today, there will be limited media availability and press conference with Métis representatives at the Edmonton Convention Centre, Hall D, Media Centre at 7:00 PM MT.
“Métis Nation British Columbia is committed to ensuring the stories of our Métis residential school Survivors and their families are heard. A delegation of Métis survivors from BC will be in Edmonton for the papal visit, and this is just the beginning of a process that is long overdue. Métis voices continue to be marginalized in these conversations and it is our duty to make sure they are forgotten no more.”
Lissa Smith, President, Métis Nation British Columbia
“On behalf of Métis Citizens in Alberta, I am honoured to welcome Pope Francis to our province, especially to Lac Ste Anne, a tremendously meaningful place to the Métis. While we look forward to an apology from His Holiness, we know it can only mark the beginning of true reconciliation with the Catholic Church. The Métis Nation of Alberta has and will continue to focus on supporting Survivors in their healing journey and I hope the Church and all levels of government will join us in this work.”
Audrey Poitras, President, Métis Nation of Alberta
"I think that there's a lot of different views on the Pope's visit. We have a lot of survivors in Saskatchewan, and each has their own journey. Some people are apprehensive or have no interest in seeing the Pope, while others pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne every year and are excited to see the Pope. Some people are talking about closure and healing from the visit."
Michelle LeClair, Vice-President, Métis Nation – Saskatchewan
“This visit is an important step from the Catholic Church towards Reconciliation. We hope Survivors and members of the Métis community will find healing in the Pontiff’s visit to our land and his expected apology. Understanding this is an emotional and difficult time for many, we are here to support our citizens attending the gathering, as well as those watching from afar. As the Government representing Métis in Ontario, we will continue fighting for tangible commitments and action toward Reconciliation and healing. Those responsible for the atrocities of the residential school system must be held to account, and our community must be offered the space and resources to heal.”
Margaret Froh, President, Métis Nation of Ontario
“LFMO’s heart goes out to all of our Residential and Day School Survivors and their families. The generational trauma is a long journey which we pray that they continue to heal from.”
Melanie Omeniho, President, Les Femmes Michif Otipemisiwak
"When we visited Rome earlier this year, our Survivors spoke with Pope Francis about the importance of delivering an apology in Canada so that many more Survivors would be able to access it. This is but another step in the journey of truth, reconciliation, healing, and justice as we continue to advocate on behalf of Survivors and the supports needed for their healing.”
Cassidy Caron, President, Métis National Council