The Métis and the Pope spoke of truth, reconciliation and healing | Indigenous people in the Vatican

On several occasions, the President of the Métis National Council, Cassidy Caron, explained: We have come for truth, justice, reconciliation, and healing.

And if the pope answered for 10 minutes in Italian, the only words he said in English sound like a commitment to Cassidy Caron’s ears.

When we invited him on our journey for truth, reconciliation, justice and healing, the only words he repeated to us in English were truth, justice and healing. I take this as a personal commitment on his part for these three actionsexplained Cassidy Caron on Saint-Pierre square just after the meeting.

The report by Mathieu Gohier

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Laure Josselin

For an hour, the pope listened to the 10 delegates from the Métis Nation. Three residential school survivors: Angie Crerar, 85, Elder Anne LeFleaur, 79, and Émile Janiver, 74, told the Pope their stories, but so many others remained unknown, so many sorrows went unsaid , said Ms. Caron.

According to her, the pope was very attentive, attentive, and you could see the sadness on his face in the stories of survivors.

She also hopes that by Friday, during the final audience with all the Aboriginals, the pope will have had time to digest his words and translate from head to heart.

We did the hard work of preparing for this trip, for our conversations with the pope. We did the work of translating our words so that he understood them, it’s his turn to join us in this workshe continued, inviting at the same time all Catholics in the world to become aware of the dramas experienced by Aboriginal children in residential schools.

It’s never too late to do the right thing.

The Métis leader nevertheless wants concrete actions. The pope made no apologies. The Métis, like many other aboriginal people, rather hope that if an apology is made, it will be made in Canada, where the traumas and horrors occurred.

Métis people from Canada, some dressed in traditional clothing or playing violins, in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

Members of the Métis delegation gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican shortly before being met by the Pope to discuss residential schools for Aboriginal people in Canada. In the foreground, Brianna Lizotte and Alexander Kusturok play the violin.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Laure Josselin

Coming out of the hour-long hearing on Monday morning, Ms. Caron was accompanied by traditional Métis fiddlers, residential school survivors and other Métis from Canada. Music is very important in their culture, explained several Métis.

It’s our culture and we’re proud to be Métis, proud to always be here and celebrate who we areadded Cassidy Caron.

She said she was not celebrating meeting the pope, but being in the Vatican, as one nation, with Inuit and First Nations.

We celebrate resilience.

A special gift

The delegation did not come empty-handed. Métis historian and craftsman Mitch Case of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario made traditional red embroidered moccasins that were given to the Pope.

Hands hold two embroidered red shoes

The Métis delegation presented the pope with these traditional moccasins, a symbol of the long way they still have to go, according to them.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Laure Josselin

Made of elk hide, these Niwiida’adoomaa have been tinted red to represent the shoes traditionally worn by popes. Pope Francis nevertheless decided not to wear red shoes, but rather very classic black shoes.

For Mitch Case, even if Pope Francis does not wear traditional red shoes, he still carries the legacy of those who came before him. Moccasins have a strong meaning in Métis culture, as they represent connection to the land, but also the fact that they are walking in the footsteps of their ancestors.

They are symbolic to us that the Church has a long way to go before we can possibly forgive her for what she has done. But if [le pape] is ready to walk with us, so we are ready to walk with himlaunched Mitch Case.

A smiling woman with an embroidered jacket and a man holding red embroidered loafers

Métis National Council President Cassidy Caron proudly wears the jacket made by Métis Mitch Case just before going to meet the Pope.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Marie-Laure Josselin

For the meeting with the Pope, President Cassidy Caron donned a traditional embroidered Giiweyendam jacket.

Mitch Case deliberately chose to make the floral designs of the jacket with antique beads that are over 100 years old.

They come from a time before residential schools, before these crimes against humanity that were committed against our peoplesaid the Métis craftsman.

With this jacket and these pearls above all, the delegation wanted to go back in time to who they were before the horrors, pain and trauma of residential schools. A way to highlight Métis values ​​and perspectives for moving forward and healing.

According to Cassidy Caron, the pope said to himself very grateful to receive this gift.

An encounter also with the Inuit

The Pope also met with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami delegation. Seven people were present, according to the Vatican, including the president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Natan Obed.

More details on this meeting will be given at a press conference to be held later on Monday.

Canadian bishops attended the meetings.

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