Special Statement by President Chartrand following Pope Francis' historic visit to Canada

July 28, 2022

Winnipeg, MB, in the National Homeland of the Red River Métis - Today, the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), the National Government of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis, reflects on the encounters with His Holiness, Pope Francis, after his historic visit and apology in Canada.

While there are many who will need more time and healing before they accept this apology, it is clear that many of our Red River Métis Citizens have embraced his sincere words and heartfelt messages.

When we met with His Holiness in Rome in April, we knew that it might be difficult for the Holy Father to make a trip to Winnipeg to visit Louis Riel's gravesite and pay tribute to the deep faith that had our great leader carry a cross into battle, instead of a gun. We told Pope Francis that if he could not come to us, we would come to him. That's why we brought more than 100 Elders and Knowledge Keepers from across our regions to Maskwacis, the site of Ermineskin Indian Residential School. I personally carried a statue of Louis Riel so that it might be blessed by the Holy Father. I know many of our Citizens were touched when Pope Francis acknowledged Winnipeg in his remarks, which told us that he still kept us in his heart, in spite of his health challenges. I was so proud of the significant presence of our delegation at the event, and deeply appreciative of the opportunity to gather with so many other members of the Indigenous community during this historic event.

Many members of our delegation to Maskwacis also attended mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Red Deer prior to the event, where we were warmly greeted by the parishioners. I know our Citizens were grateful to attend the service and draw comfort from it in advance of our time with many Nations from across Canada as we heard the Holy Father's apology.

I was also honoured to be able to attend an event with His Holiness in Quebec City, at the Governor General's residence at the Citadelle of Quebec on Wednesday, July 27, accompanied by Andrew Carrier, a day school survivor and the MMF's Minister for Residential and Day School survivors. We were able to hear the words of His Holiness and participate in this part of his journey to our country, which will be followed by his last event in Canada, in Iqaluit.

The power of his apology, delivered in our Homeland, was not lost on our delegation. Many were moved to tears, including survivors and family members of survivors, hearing his acknowledgement of the harms done by residential and day schools, and the people who ran them. We know that our Citizens are now in a better place to move forward on their healing journeys, their faith in God strong and growing stronger.

I, like our Cabinet, have long heard the words of our Elders, Knowledge Keepers and survivors, and their concerns about the shrinking presence of the Catholic church in our communities, and we remain committed to supporting their wish to strengthen this relationship. The National Government of the Red River Métis remains committed to ongoing healing with the Catholic church, walking side-by-side as we always have in our Nation's past.

I look forward to continuing dialogue with the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops as we move forward on our journey of hope from reconciliation to renewal.

 

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Believe in Yourself; Believe in Métis.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is the democratically elected National Government of the Red River Métis, also known as the Manitoba Métis, the origin and core of the Métis Nation. The Manitoba Métis are Canada's Negotiating Partners in Confederation and the Founders of the Province of Manitoba.

For more information, media may contact:
Kat Patenaude
Media Relations Advisor
Manitoba Métis Federation
204-801-7710
Kat.Patenaude@mmf.mb.ca

 


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