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Pope Francis meets Indigenous groups as apology for residential schools sought

by Sophie Drew

The Pope has met with Indigenous groups in Canada, as calls for an apology have gained momentum.

A number of Indigenous people were invited to the Vatican, in order to meet Pope Francis, following the discovery of more than 1,300 unmarked graves.

The graves belonged to Indigenous people sent to church-led residential schools across the country, away from their communities and cultures. 

The move was part of the Canadian Government's policy on mandatory assimilation. 

Around 150,000 children, including Metis and Inuit, were enrolled in the residential schools during the 19th Century. 

Many were forced to spend months, or often years, isolated from their families, language and culture, and forced to adopt 'mainstream' cultural norms instead. 

Some residential schools became places of physical and sexual abuse, as well as severe neglect and malnutrition. 

In 2015, a report found that the government policy was an act of "cultural genocide."

The Catholic Church has said it is sorry for the role it played in the tragedy, but many are keen for Pope Francis to apologise personally. 

The Pope heard stories from the Metis National Council and representatives of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

The stories regale the horrors experienced by those enrolled in the schools.

The Pontiff will welcome further meetings over the coming days. 


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