The Vatican has called the trip a “penitential pilgrimage,” and the pope will be greeted in Edmonton on Sunday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mary Simon, the Governor General of Canada.
While in the country, he will meet with Indigenous groups and address the scandal of abuse and erasure of Indigenous culture in residential schools across the country.
Indigenous leaders have long demanded a papal apology for the decades-long harm inflicted on Indigenous children. Last year, hundreds of unmarked graves have been discovered on the grounds of former residential schools in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada reported that more than 4,000 Indigenous children died of neglect or abuse in residential schools, many of them run by the Catholic Church.
In April, the pope told indigenous leaders at the Vatican that he felt “sorrow and shame for the role that a number of Catholics, especially those with educational responsibilities, have played in all these things. who have hurt you, in the abuse you have suffered and in the lack of respect for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.
The pope will also visit Quebec and Iqaluit, capital of the Canadian territory of Nunavut, during his trip. Two Canadian cardinals will accompany him throughout his visit, Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal Michael Czerny.
Francis, 85, had a trip to Africa earlier this month canceled due to problems with his knee.
He said in an interview with Reuters that he still intended to visit Russia after the country invaded Ukraine, but he was criticized for prioritizing this destination over visiting Ukraine and for partially blaming NATO for the invasion of Russia.
“I would like to go there, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine. The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help, but I would like to go to both capitals,” Francis said.
In a June interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, Francis said the war “may have been provoked or not prevented.”
Pope Francis said that before Russia invaded Ukraine, he met “a head of state” who “was very worried about the development of NATO”.