Some have been coming to the shrine of Ste-Anne in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré north -east of Quebec City for years to mark an annual Catholic feast.
“It’s a tradition in my family or in my reserve that we come here every year,” said Naomi Einish from the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach in northern Quebec, sitting outside the church with her family, on a break between masses, on Tuesday.
Ste-Anne, is known in the church as the grandmother of Christ and as such she has special significance among Indigenous Peoples who follow the faith.
As with every year, thousands from various Indigenous communities from across Quebec and other provinces are gathered for the two-day event, many camping in a sprawling lot across the street.
For some, this year is special.
“We were here when the pope came in 1984,” smiled Maggie Sandy, also from the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach in northern Quebec. “Now we’re here for this Pope.”
Pope Francis arrives Thursday for a special mass, part of his trip to Canada to apologize to Indigenous communities for atrocities they suffered at Catholic-run residential schools.
“It’s good that he’s coming here for forgiveness for the Catholic church,” said Sandy.
For some, though, an apology is useless.
“The damage is already done,” noted Louie Rich from the Sheshatshiu Innu First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador. “My dad’s in jail. Still.”
According to Rich his father is a Catholic residential school survivor, and he believes his father suffered as a result.
“I’ve seen him at his worst with my mom and it was hard,” he said. “I was traumatized. I’m 36 now and those memories are still there. The voice of my mom screaming my name are still there.”
For him, deeds, like help for Indigenous communities, are needed much more than words from the head of the Catholic church.
“Maybe provide treatment facilities in our community,” he noted. “Maybe. Like if I wanted a treatment facility like a treatment centre, it’ll take a month for me to get there.”
Others hope the Pope does apologize there Thursday, as he did in Alberta, saying even that can help some survivors.
“It breaks my heart for them knowing that they went through that and an apology would be great too,” Einish told Global News.
Now they wait to see what the Pope has to say.