After Pope Francis’s visit, Indigenous people in Canada reflect on trauma, healing

In July, Pope Francis made a widely publicized “pilgrimage of penance” to Canada. Over six days, Francis met with Indigenous people across the country in order to listen and to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in running Canada’s residential schools—a system that removed 150,000 children from their families and led to loss of Indigenous identity, language, and culture.

“I want to tell you how very sorry I am and to ask for forgiveness for the evil perpetrated by not a few Catholics who contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation and enfranchisement in those schools,” Francis said on the final stop of the tour.

Francis’s visit was immediately met with mixed reviews, and in the months since, Indigenous people have had time to further process and reflect on what his apology meant—or didn’t mean—to them.