Pope’s July Iqaluit visit expected to bring excitement, healing
Pope Francis scheduled to visit Canada from July 24 to 30; Iqaluit one of three stops
News confirming Pope Francis will visit Iqaluit this summer was well received in the city Friday.
In an announcement, the Vatican said he will be in Canada from July 24 to 30, with stops in Iqaluit, Quebec City and Edmonton. Further details, such as how much time the aging pontiff will spend in Nunavut, were not released.
When Francis met with delegates of Inuit, Metis and First Nations at the Vatican in late March, he said then he hoped to be able to visit Canada.
Toward the end of that visit, on April 1, the Pope apologized for the role some Roman Catholic clergy played in abuses that occurred in the residential school system. It’s expected he will apologize again when he is in Canada.
A stop in Iqaluit by the Pope had been rumoured for weeks. The Vatican’s confirmation Friday came as good news to Iqaluit residents like Infiniti Legend, who will be able to experience the event for themselves.
“I think they’re going to be so excited when he comes in,” Legend said of the city’s reaction.
“I like the Pope coming up here,” said Saqiqtaq Levi Shoo, adding his brother attended a residential school.
Shoo said it will be good if the Pope apologizes in person – as is expected – for the role the Catholic Church played in the residential school system while he visits Nunavut.
The residential school system began in the 1880s as a method of removing Indigenous peoples in Canada from their identity, culture and language. Some schools remained open until the 1990s, including Kivalliq Hall in Rankin Inlet.
Since spring 2021, more than 1,800 unmarked graves have been found at residential schools. Calls have since come for the Catholic Church, which ran most of the residential schools, and other institutions to accept responsibility for their role.
Contacted by Nunatsiaq News on Friday morning, Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell said he was not yet familiar with the details of the visit.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said the territory will welcome the Pope’s visit.
“This visit is an important step towards reconciliation for Inuit who survived residential school and their families,” he said.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, whose president Natan Obed was one of the Inuit delegates at the Vatican, stated the organization welcomes the Pope for a visit “centered on truth, justice, healing, reconciliation and hope.”
Further details on the Pope’s visit, including the date of his Iqaluit stop and how long he will be in Nunavut, are expected to be released in the coming weeks, the Vatican press office stated.
This will be the fourth papal visit to Canada, with the first coming in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.