Pope Francis apologizes to Canada's Indigenous peoples: World in photos


World in photos: The pope and Canada’s Indigenous peoples — a historic apology

For all the damage done by colonizers to the colonized in the course of human history, few world leaders have offered full, formal and public words of contrition to the victims. Which may explain why — though the trip was long anticipated — Pope Francis’ visit to Canada this week has stirred so much global attention. The papal trip has also brought a series of arresting visual moments.

Francis traveled to Maskwacis in Alberta on Monday, where he gave a sweeping and emotional apology to Canada’s Indigenous people, sitting in a traditional pow wow circle and acknowledging a terrible history.

“I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said. He added that he was “deeply sorry” for the Catholic Church’s role in fostering a “colonizing mentality” and for the “forced assimilation” that was a feature of church-run residential schools on Indigenous lands.

Beginning in the late 19th century, some of those schools became known for the abuse of Indigenous children, many of whom were forcibly separated from their families. In 2015, Canada’s National Center for Truth and Reconciliation described what had happened at these schools as “cultural genocide.” Last year, nearly 1,000 unmarked graves were uncovered on the old school grounds.

Pope Francis had apologized to representatives of Canada’s Indigenous people at the Vatican in April. This week, he did so in a more public way, to the broader community, on their soil. And he called for further investigations into what had happened there. “Begging pardon,” he said, “is not the end of the matter.”

ALBERTA, CANADA - JULY 25: Pope Francis waves to onlookers as he leaves the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples where he met with members of the Indigenous community in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on July 25, 2022. - Pope Francis on Monday apologized for the "evil" inflicted on the Indigenous peoples of Canada on the first day of a visit focused on addressing decades of abuse committed at Catholic institutions. (Photo by Lincoln Ho/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
MASKWACIS, AB - JULY 25 : Members of the Indigenous community gather as Pope Francis visits Muskwa Park in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada, on July 25, 2022. Pope Francis on Monday issued a long-awaited and historic apology to Indigenous peoples for the harm the Catholic Church did to them at Canadaâs residential schools. (Photo by Lincoln Ho/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
  • Tom Nagorski
    Tom Nagorski

    Global Editor

    Tom Nagorski is the global editor at Grid, where he oversees our coverage of global security, U.S.-China relations, migration trends, global economics and U.S. foreign policy.

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    Jake Garcia

    Associate Producer, Multimedia

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    Mariana Labbate

    Global Editorial Assistant

    Mariana Labbate is the editorial assistant for Grid's Global team.