Meeting between Canadian First Nations and pope postponed

Associated Press [New York NY]

December 8, 2021

By Rob Gillies

A meeting at the Vatican between Pope Francis and Canadian Indigenous people who were abused at church-run boarding schools has been postponed because of the new coronavirus variant.

National Chief RoseAnne Archibald of the Assembly of First Nations said Tuesday that the delegation had planned to travel to Rome next week and meet with the pope on Dec. 20, but the trip is being put off because of the omicron variant. Many of the First Nation delegates are elderly.

“Particularly for many elderly delegates as well as those who live in remote communities, the risk of infection and the fluid nature of the evolving global situation presents too great a threat at this time,” the Indigenous groups and Canadian Catholic bishops said in a joint statement.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 Indigenous children in Canada were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools as an effort to assimilate them into Canadian society.