I am writing today to confirm my participation in the impending papal visit to Canada.
Despite a lack of concrete or written information about what’s happening specifically across the country, my staff and I were able to glean from information released to public through the papal visit website and press clippings what we understand to be the Pope’s itinerary.
As I first stated last November, it’s always been my intention to welcome Pope Francis, as head of the Assembly of First Nations, when he arrives in Canada to fulfill TRC Call to Action #58. I’ve also publicly stated my willingness to hear the Pope’s words of apology on our traditional lands, provided that he offer them at the site of a former residential institution. Chief Randy Ermineskin graciously provided a tour on July 15 of the Maskwacis sites where Pope Francis plans to deliver his apology. My tour included the former institution sites where hundreds of little ones died at Maskwacis.
Therefore, I am confirming again my attendance at the official welcome at Edmonton International Airport and also at the anticipated apology in Maskwacis.
I look forward to an opportunity to speak in Maskwacis and will do so after the traditional welcome to the territory. My remarks will serve to welcome the Pope and welcome his apology on behalf of First Nations. It is my intention to then exit the stage, sit in the general audience, and make way for Regional Chief Gerald Antoine, IRS and Day School portfolio lead for the Assembly of First Nations, to talk more about the healing path forward.
To confirm, Regional Chief Gerald Antoine, Chief Randy Ermineskin, Chief George Arcand Jr, and I will have our place on the Maskwacis programme.
I’ve also been notified that on the Papal Visit Ticketmaster page, ticket holders are solicited for donations to CONCACAN INC. who serve to promote and coordinate Catholic activity in Canada and ensure the advancement of the Roman Catholic church in Canada. Please see how inappropriate this is. We as First Nations people are all intergenerational trauma survivors, and we are collectively grieving the pain and suffering that Catholic-run institutions of assimilation and genocide perpetrated. It is ill-timed to advance church fundraising efforts on this reconciliatory visit in the first place but especially hurtful to ask First Nations survivors, to whom church reparations are already owed, to donate.
Lastly, I would like for you to send the complete set of agendas for all papal visit sites that we can share with our communities as our People need answers.
I look forward to your reply and determining our next steps on the healing path forward together.
National Chief RoseAnne Archibald
CC: Regional Chief Gerald Antoine
Chief Randy Ermineskin
Chief George Arcand Jr.