A Manitoba woman traveling to Edmonton this weekend with a group of her fellow residential school survivors says she’s looking forward to hearing Pope Francis apologize on Canadian soil.
Jennifer Wood is one of thousands of survivors from across the country preparing for an emotional week, as the leader of the Catholic church visits Canada, starting his tour in Alberta.
The Pope previously apologized for the church’s role in the residential school system when a delegation of Canadian First Nations and Métis peoples visited with the Pope at the Vatican in the spring.
“It’s a whole different story, I believe, when he’s in person, and he’s actually come to our homeland — to the territory where we belong and where the abuses occurred,” Wood told 680 CJOB’s The Start.
“It certainly is going to be very impactful for all survivors. Without understanding, there is no validation.”
An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools — more than 60 per cent run by the Catholic Church.
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Pope Francis has described his seven-day Canadian tour as a “penitential” pilgrimage to apologize to Indigenous groups for abuses inflicted by the church.
Asking the pontiff to make a formal apology is one of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“A lot of our survivors are preparing themselves to hear the Pope apologize,” Wood said.
“Silence is acceptance, and this is not a silent issue any longer, for the head of the Vatican to apologize. It’s the first step toward healing.
“A lot of our survivors are very spiritual people… for the truth to come out and for Canadians to see the highest person from the Vatican coming to Canada is going to create, I think, a lot of positive movement.”