Inuit Planning And Preparations Set The Stage For Warm Welcome Of Pope Francis To Inuit Homeland

Press Release

July 26, 2022

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, together with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Makivik Corporation and the Nunatsiavut Government, are coordinating efforts for Inuit participation in the Papal Visit to Canada. This has focused on preparations for a visit by Pope Francis to Iqaluit this week, but it also included work to ensure that Inuit survivors are able to witness and receive an expected apology on Canadian soil delivered at the first official event, in Edmonton.

On July 25, Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and Aluki Kotierk, President of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and an Inuit delegation of residential school survivors, intergenerational survivors and supports will attend a gathering by Pope Francis and First Nations, Metis and Inuit survivors at the former Ermineskin Residential School at Maskwacis, about an hour south of Edmonton.

On July 26, President Obed and a small delegation of survivors, and supports will travel to Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta, site of an annual pilgrimage that welcomes tens of thousands of Indigenous participants each year. He will join leadership from the Assembly of First Nations and the Metis National Council at these sites, and will welcome them to Iqaluit on July 29.

On July 27, President Obed will travel to Quebec City to participate in a visit with State Officials and Public Address by Pope Francis at the Citadelle de Quebec.

On July 29, Inuit will welcome Pope Francis to Inuit Nunangat. Inuit are honoured that Mary Simon, the Governor General of Canada, will also participate in the day’s events.

At approximately 4:15 ET, Pope Francis will gather with Inuit survivors and intergenerational survivors of residential schools for an intimate encounter inside Nakasuk School. He will be greeted by the Governor General, as well as an elder and youth representative. President Kotierk will facilitate the gathering.

Pope Francis will share in the lighting of the qulliq in a gymnasium recreated with the warmth and comfort of an igloo. Four individuals will deliver personal testimonies on behalf of themselves and their families. The event will be witnessed by a number of survivors and leaders from across Inuit Nunangat.

Following the event, at approximately 5 pm, Pope Francis and survivors will proceed to the grounds in front of Nakasuk School to join a public cultural event. The public event begins at 4 pm with performers from across Inuit Nunangat. There will be a brief pause in the program as Pope Francis takes the stage. The stage will be set to suggest a qammaq, an Inuit summer home, reflecting traditional construction materials – whale ribs, sod, stone.

Cultural performers were chosen by Inuit partners to highlight Inuit traditions that were nearly lost during the residential schools era. The artists contributing to all aspects of the day’s events, including arrival and departure ceremonies, tell a cohesive story of resilience and strength through trauma, and the revitalization of cultural practices that are now actively taught and learned.

Performers include

  • Kattajjak throat singers Akinisie Sivuarapk and Emily Sallualuk of Puvurnituq, Nunavik
  • Qiavaaq throat singers Lois Suluk and Mary Anautalik of Arviat, Nunavut
  • Huqqullaaqatigiit drum dancers of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut
  • Opera singer Deantha Edmunds Ramsay of Hopedale, Nunatsiavut
  • Drum dancer Piita Irniq of Naujaaq, Nunavut
  • Drum dancers and singers Tooma Laisa, Sandi Vincent, Celina Kalluk, Alexia Galloway Alainga, Minnie Akeeagok, Mary Itorcheak, Mia Maurice and Sylvia Cloutier, of Iqaluit, Nunavut
  • Qulliq lighter Nancy Aupaluktuk of Baker Lake, Nunavut
  • Qulliq lighter Micheline Amaaq, with singers Monica Ittusardjuat and Madeleine Ivalu and storyteller Alexina Kublu

“Inuit invited Pope Francis to visit our homeland, and on July 29 we are welcoming him to our home, to the place we have inhabited since time immemorial. This is a meaningful visit for Inuit, who have experienced lasting pain and suffering, and who remain welcoming and open to the possibility for true reconciliation,” said President Obed.

Schedule of Events

3:50 pm               Arrival of Pope Francis to Iqaluit
Iqaluit International Airport (no public access)

4:00 pm               Inuit Cultural Performance
In front of Nakasuk School (open to the public)

4:15 pm               Invitation-only encounter with Pope Francis, with personal testimonies shared and witnessed by survivors and intergenerational survivors
Nakasuk School Gymnasium (no public access)

5:00 pm               Inuit Cultural Performance with formal remarks delivered by Pope Francis
In front of Nakasuk School (open to the public)

6:15 pm               Departure of Pope Francis from Canada
Iqaluit International Airport (no public access)

For further details regarding the Papal Visit, including information about media access, please visit www.papalvisit.ca

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
[email protected]; 613-292-4482

IHT5

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