Indigenous Mitis Manitoba visit Pope: ‘He touched our hearts’

About fifty members of the federation, which became an independent government after an agreement with the state in July 2021, came from Canada to Rome to continue the process of reconciliation with the Church after abuses in the “boarding schools”. President David Chartrand: “Our message is not only a message of reconciliation but a message of hope”

Salvatore Sernozio – Vatican News

Tears, memories and stories of thanks for asking for forgiveness and asking for a trip to their land. It was an intimate and moving audience with 55 Aboriginal people from the Canadian Confederation of Métis Manitoba, and was received Thursday morning (21) at the Vatican. The Federation of Métis Manitoba is the true government of Canada that signed a self-governing agreement with the state on July 6, 2021. The members – known as “Red River Métis” – are concentrated primarily in the Manitoba region, in the prairies of northwest Canada. For this reason, the union did not participate in the pope’s masses at the end of March with the indigenous peoples of Canada (Metis, Inuit and First Nation), who were received in the Vatican in three stages as “organizations”.

A message of hope and renewal

Like other indigenous peoples, many members of the Métis tribe in Manitoba were subjected to abuse in so-called “boarding schools” set up by the government and run by Christian churches, including the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Pope expressed his “indignation and shame” at a meeting on April 1 in the presence of the bishops of Canada and apologized. A very powerful message that these residents have been waiting for for decades. The people of Manitoba were deeply moved by the pope’s gesture and words, as President David Chartrand explained in a letter he wrote before the Vatican meeting, which took three years to prepare: “Like all the indigenous peoples of Canada, especially those who have suffered mischief at the hands of individuals who hid their faults behind The Catholic Church, and I was relieved to hear Pope Francis offer a sincere apology. I know that many Métis in Red River have been waiting for this apology to so many and I hope it helps begin the healing process and unites us on this journey of reconciliation, revitalization and renewal.”

Pope Francis and the indigenous Mitis of Manitoba in the Vatican

tears and mercy

“The tears that were shed there, the stories that were shared, were accepted by him with great mercy and we were most moved when he asked for forgiveness,” said the aboriginal leader. One of the survivors, Andrew, “who paid dearly as a child”, had the opportunity to tell Francesco his personal story, who was patient, considerate and moved. Touching our hearts to see your compassion.

Métis Manitoba clothing details

Métis Manitoba clothing details

Gifts that tell the story of a people

He briefed the Pope on the government agreement signed with Canada. Francisco signed the copy, which will be displayed in a soon-to-be-established museum. Then the indigenous people handed out various gifts, especially handicrafts made of beads that can be dated back to 300 years, which is the hallmark of this population. “Our beadwork is the story of who we are,” Chartrand explained, “we were once known as the ‘bead peoples of the West’ because they didn’t know what to call us. All our work has prairie flowers that tell our story.” The aborigines also gave the Pope model shoes and some crosses from the 19th century: “The kindness of our people is appreciated.” According to his guests, the Pope shook hands with everyone present: “He rose from his chair and wanted to come to us. We saw that he was limping … It was wonderful to see the Pope with such energy, enthusiasm and pride, he touched our hearts, and many of us will not forget him as long as we live. And so it is a great honor It is ours to have a Pope with this future vision. He is the first Pope. God and then the Vatican.”

Request to visit Louis Riel’s tomb

Pope Francis gave each of them the Pope’s medal: “Many wept.” The audience was also an opportunity for the Métis to repeat their invitation to the Pope (who assured them of his willingness to travel to Canada, perhaps in July) to visit the capital of the Winnipeg region and to bless the tomb of Louis Riel, commander from Métis, considered the father of Manitoba, who in the nineteenth century led the Río Vermelo resistance movements seeking To preserve the rights and culture of the people when their lands came under Canadian influence. Then-Prime Minister John A. MacDonald set a reward of $5,000 on his arrest and Riel was executed. The aborigines asked the Pope today, on his trip to Canada, to visit the tomb of “a man who gave everything, not only to the people of Métis, but to the Church.”

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