Prepare now for visit by Pope, Iqaluit councillor says

Papal visit would be ‘major event,’ Coun. Joanasie Akumalik says

Pope Francis greets a crowd during a visit to the Philippines in 2015. Iqaluit should be preparing now for a papal visit later this year, says Coun. Joanasie Akumalik. (Photo by Robert Viñas, Wikimedia)

By Corey Larocque

Iqaluit should be preparing now to host Pope Francis later this year, says city councillor Joanasie Akumalik, while Mayor Kenny Bell says the city hasn’t officially been told he’s coming.

“The city should be preparing and planning,” Akumalik said during Tuesday’s council meeting at city hall.

When Queen Elizabeth visited the capital of the then-new territory of Nunavut in 2002, the city built a road so she would have a “smooth ride” and cleaned up the area around the river, Akumalik said.

He suggested at least twice during Tuesday’s meeting that Iqaluit should be getting ready to host the Pope, but there was no discussion of the matter during the meeting.

There have been media reports that Pope Francis will include Iqaluit in his itinerary for a trip to Canada this summer.

On April 1, Francis apologized to three delegations of Indigenous Peoples from Canada — representatives of Inuit, First Nations and Métis organizations — for the role some members of the church played in Canada’s residential school system abuses.

Those schools, run by Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, were part of the federal government’s plan for separating Indigenous Peoples from their cultures.

When Francis gave that apology at the Vatican three weeks ago, he said he would like to come to Canada soon. There have been calls for years for the Pope to apologize in Canada to the people who were directly affected by the residential schools.

“We know this will be a major event,” Akumalik said, referring to the potential visit by the religious leader.

But Bell added that city officials have not been formally notified of any pending papal visit.

“We have not seen anything official yet,” the mayor said.

Despite that, in an email statement released earlier this month Premier P.J. Akeeagok also referenced an expected visit by Pope Francis to Iqaluit.

In it, he said “I believe that the Iqaluit visit will be another opportunity to engage with survivors of residential school and their families and to offer an apology for the church’s role in the systemic oppression of Inuit.”

RCMP Staff Sgt. Robert Gallant, who was at Tuesday’s council meeting to provide a monthly report on police activity, echoed the mayor when he was asked if police are ready for the security and crowd control issues that accompany a papal visit.

“There’s all kinds of discussion in the background. There is nothing official yet,” Gallant said.


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(9) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    we need to separate religion and politics.

    seriously guys and gals. it’s 2022.

    believe in what you want, whether it’s the catholic, anglican, jewish, muslim, angnostic, aethiest, or festivus.

    it should be separate from our political practises.

    now excuse me, I’m going to be late for the feats of strength.

  2. Posted by Know on

    How many countries does the pope have to apologize for their unholyness too?

  3. Posted by Apex road on

    Plan for His Holiness to deliver the apology in Apex, then we can get the Apex road paved.

    • Posted by Patchy on

      100% agree. Pave it with Frobisher’s gold. ARRR.

    • Posted by Pang Pang on

      Hold the ceremony in Pang, so there will be a paved road from the Iqaluit International Airport to Pang.

      • Posted by Will I Am on

        I thought it was called the Bob Long International Airport. Regardless, paving is good and an essential requirement before welcoming any high level dignitary to our capital.

  4. Posted by Abraham Tagalik on

    we should pave the road with good intensions.

  5. Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

    Interesting that to “prepare for the pope” to these commentators means “paving the road”.

    I agree with preparation, but, one would think it meant more toward healing of some sort. Not fixing Council’s potholes.

  6. Posted by common sense on

    you could fix a lot of potholes with what the popes visit will cost the Canadian tax payer.
    I suspect millions. waste of my money as a tax payer.

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