CANADA 'I want to tell you how sorry I am':...

‘I want to tell you how sorry I am’: Pope’s speech in Iqaluit is close to earlier apologies

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Pope Francis attends a social event outside Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit on Friday afternoon. In his speech, the Pope asked for forgiveness and mentioned the “outrage and shame” he felt about Canadian boarding schools. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

On Friday, Pope Francis issued another apology, this time to Inuit boarding school survivors, ending his five-day visit to Canada with a short stop in Iqaluit.

Speaking to a crowd outside a local elementary school, the Pope’s comments were closely linked to statements he made earlier in the week about the church’s role in the boarding school system.

Referring to “the outrage and shame I have felt for months,” the Pope also mentioned a private meeting he had just had with some of the surviving Inuit boarding schools in Iqaluit. He thanked them for their courage to share their “great suffering”.

But he did not apologize for the church as a whole and for its complex history.

A woman hugs another person during a public event honoring Pope Francis outside Nakasuk Elementary School. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“I want to tell you how sorry I am and to ask for forgiveness for the wrong done by many Catholics who have promoted cultural assimilation and enfranchisement in these schools,” he said.

The first Catholic Church mission was built in eastern Canada in the Arctic in 1912, at Chesterfield Bay, Nunavut, on the western shore of Hudson Bay. Later, the area was home to Turketil Hall, a Catholic residence for Inuit students, many of whom were sent to school from afar. Other Inuit children from the eastern Arctic were sent to Groller Hall, another Catholic institution in Inuvik, Northwest West.

In both places, many cases of physical and sexual violence were recorded.

Pope Francis’ comments in Iqaluit no longer contained direct references to abuse in boarding schools. Rather, he focused on the policy of forced separation of children from their parents and the legacy of broken families.

WATCH: Pope Francis asks for forgiveness in Iqaluit:

In Iqaluit, the Pope asks for forgiveness for the evil committed in boarding schools

2 hours ago

Duration 8:27

After meeting with boarding school survivors on Friday in Iqaluit, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the “evil done by many Catholics” who promoted the policy of cultural assimilation. The Pope added that the survivors’ stories “rekindled in me the resentment and shame that I had been feeling for months.”

“Such stories not only hurt us, but also create scandals,” he said.

“What a mischief to break the bond that binds parents and children, to spoil our closest relationships, to harm and anger the little ones!”

He also said he came to the Nunavut capital with “a desire to walk together a path of healing and reconciliation that, with the help of the Creator, can help us shed light on what has happened and move beyond this dark past.”

The Pope also noted the resilience of the Inuit culture and the “beautiful relationship” between the Inuit and the environment. Many people would find the Arctic inhospitable, he says, but the Inuit have come to “respect, cherish and improve” their lands.

A woman (left) prays during a public event honoring Pope Francis outside Nakasuk Elementary School in Iqaluit July 29, 2022. (Ewan Mitsui/CBC)

He also referred to kullik, and traditional A seal oil lamp used for both heat and light.

“Even today, this lamp remains a wonderful symbol of life, of a bright lifestyle that rivals the darkness of the night,” he said.

“That’s who you are, the eternal testimony of a life that never ends, a light that shines and that no one has been able to extinguish.”

The Pope’s four-hour visit to Iqaluit on Friday marked the end of his self-proclaimed “pilgrimage of penitence” this week. The Papal plane took off from Iqaluit Airport just after 8:00 pm ET to return to Rome.


Support is available for anyone affected by boarding schools, as well as those who are concerned about the latest messages.

Indian Boarding School Survivors Society (IRSSS) can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-721-0066.

A national crisis line for Indian boarding schools has been set up to provide support to former students and victims. People can access emotional and crisis help services by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

In addition, the NWT Hotline provides free support to residents of the Northwestern Territories 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s 100% free and private. The NWT helpline also has an option for follow-up calls. Residents can call the helpline at 1-800-661-0844.

in Nunavut, Hotline Kamatsiaktut available 24/7 at 1-800-265-3333. People are invited to call for any reason.

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