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Pope to meet Canadian Indigenous people in wake of schools scandal

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Pope Francis will meet with Canadian Indigenous people this month to discuss their concerns with the gruesome discovery of hundreds of children’s bodies buried in church-run Canadian schools. 

The schools were intended to assimilate Indigenous children and were mostly run by the Catholic Church between 1831 and 1996.

Many of the children at the residential schools were forcibly separated from their families, and a 2015 report from the Canadian government revealed that the children were at times subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. 

On March 28 and 31, the pontiff will meet with representatives from the Inuit, Métis and First Nations communities. Later this year, Francis is expected to visit Canada, where he has been asked to personally apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the schools, Reuters reported. 

In June, Francis said he was pained by the discovery of the remains of the children. At that time, however, he did not issue a direct apology, the news service added.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has demanded that the Catholic Church take responsibility and spoken out about the residential schools.

“The news that remains were found at the former Kamloops residential school breaks my heart — it is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history. I am thinking about everyone affected by this distressing news. We are here for you,” Trudeau tweeted when the remains were discovered.

His tweet referenced the Kamloops Indian Residential School, which was once one of the largest in Canada before it was closed in the late 1970s and was made into a museum. 

Tags Justin Trudeau Pope Francis

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