Pope Francis’ Canada trip: What is Iqaluit and why is he going there?

There is one Catholic parish in Iqaluit: Our Lady of the Assumption. According to the pastor, Father Daniel Perreault, only a handful of his parishioners are Inuit, the Associated Press reported. The rest are from different countries on at least five different continents. His parish serves more than 100 people at Mass each Sunday.

The Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay, which covers most of the Nunavut territory, says it serves approximately 9,000 Catholics in 17 parishes and missions with two diocesan priests, five religious priests, and two sisters of Canadian Congregations, one permanent deacon, one religious brother , and three pastoral agents.

Bishop Anthony Wieslaw Krótki leads the diocese.

Why is Pope Francis going there?

The primary reason for the pope’s visit to Iqaluit is to have a private meeting with students of the former residential schools. More than a dozen residential schools operated in what is now Nunavut.

From a practical standpoint, the local bishop, Krótki, has said that “Iqaluit was also chosen because of its aviation safety measures, number of hotel rooms to accommodate students and visitors, and its access to political, church and indigenous organization administration in Ottawa. ”

The Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay was the first Canadian diocese to apologize to former students of a residential school in 1996, he also pointed out. Along with other dioceses in Canada, it contributed to the Canadian Bishops Canadian Indigenous Reconciliation Fund.

Pope Francis visits the Fraternité Saint Alphonse welcome and spirituality center, Quebec, Canada, July 28, 2022. Holy See Press Office

Did Iqaluit have residential schools?

The Diocese of Churchill-Hudson Bay was involved in the running of one school in the area for less than 15 years, Krótki told Vatican News. He spoke about the positive and negative impacts of that school.

“The educational benefits of that institution have been proven by the number of former students that became leaders in their society, government and in the area of ​​land claims negotiations,” he said. “The school also brought some pain and suffering with young people not living at home on a year-round basis as well as some unacceptable abuses.”

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What is Pope Francis’ schedule there?

According to Our Lady of the Assumption, Pope Francis will arrive at 3:50 pm EDT on Friday, July 29. He will depart for Rome at 6:45 pm During his time there, he will meet with students of the former residential schools of Canada.

Upon arrival, the pope will head to Nakasuk Elementary School and hold a private audience at the gym, the parish said. He will then attend a public community event outside and deliver a message. Afterward, there will be a “Song of the Lord’s Prayer.”

“In a few days, in the presence of Pope Francis, we will sing this prayer to God Our Father very loudly,” the pastor, Father Perreault, announced on his church’s website. “May this moment be a real opportunity for mutual gentleness and welcome for all participants, regardless of their place and culture of origin.”

Who else has visited Iqaluit?

Queen Elizabeth II and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, the father of current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among other officials, have visited Iqaluit in the past.

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