Members of Canada's Assembly of First Nations marched out of the Vatican Apostolic Palace chanting and beating drums.
They had just finished a two-hour meeting with Pope Francis, during which they shared how their communities were scarred by emotional, physical, and sexual abuse committed throughout Canada's 130 government-funded residential schools, nearly three-quarters of which were run by Catholic congregations.
Northwest Territories Regional Chief
We're here at this really divine moment to allow the messengers here to share the voices of our people, that the things that happen to us, should never have happened. Unfortunately it has, it has it's history. And so we're here to tell you the truth.
Among their requests for reparations is that Pope Francis travel to Canada to offer a formal apology to Indigenous Canadian communities on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Residential school survivor
Our preference is for the Holy Father to come to Canada, apologize on Canadian soil, and do it on one of our territories. That is our hope and wish, and we made that very clear to the Holy Father.
The focus of their meeting was to share their reality with the Pope, and they say they were encouraged by his willingness to listen to their stories and hear their concerns, such as those over the thousands of unmarked graves on the properties of former residential schools.
Grand Chief of Cree First Nation
I feel that the Pope and the Church has expressed a sentiment of working towards reconciliation, he shared words about the shame and sorrow that the Church feels for the history concerning the unmarked graves.
Pope Francis also met with delegations from the Métis and Inuit Indigenous Nations earlier in the week. Although the Pope has been focused on listening to their testimonies, these Indigenous leaders are hoping he return their visit to Rome with a trip to Canada.