Message from Richard Jock, FNHA Chief Executive Officer
The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has learned more information about Pope Francis' visit to Canada from July 24 to 29 and the potential opportunity for Indigenous people to travel to and engage with the leader of the Catholic Church.
First Nations, Métis and Inuit representatives from across Canada received an initial apology earlier this year at the Vatican when the Pope made a commitment to visit Canada to provide an elaboration on First Nations territory.
Entitled “Healing and Reconciliation: An Historic Journey," the Papal Visit will provide unique opportunity to listen and have a dialogue with Indigenous people as well as address and acknowledge the impact of the Catholic Church's involvement in the colonization of Canada's Indigenous Peoples.
While the Pope will not be visiting any locations in British Columbia (BC), he will be in Edmonton, Alberta, and the FNHA is supportive of and acknowledges that many First Nations people—especially those directly impacted by residential schools—will want to travel to see and listen to Pope Francis.
The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) will receive an allocation of tickets for each site during the Papal Visit, and will work to ensure that no former student or survivor will be turned away.
The Pope will be in attendance at four public events and one public viewing event:
Please visit this link to BCAFN for registering for and acquiring tickets.
You may contact BCAFN with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that all tickets will be free and any selling of tickets is not sanctioned by the BCAFN or any other Indigenous organization.
For those who cannot or do not want to travel to events, the FNHA will work with the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS) to organize events in Vancouver, Prince George and Terrace during the Papal Visit. Other organizations may be holding events and FNHA will inform First Nations of this information as it becomes available.
As well, in the spirit of reconciliation, the Government of Canada is supporting Indigenous communities and organizations to meet the needs of survivors and community members throughout the Papal Visit. This includes providing one-time funding to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities and governments, as well as a limited number of urban Indigenous organizations and organizations that serve Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. Communities and organizations will be contacted directly.
The FNHA has received confirmation of these one-time funds to provide BC First Nations communities and organizations with the flexibility to implement their own trauma-informed and culturally-grounded responses to their survivors' and members' needs before, during, and after the Papal visit. The FNHA will be sending letters to communities confirming the funding allocations for these purposes.
Please note that Self-Governing and Treaty First Nations will receive funding from the Indigenous Services Canada regional office.
For the most up-to-date information about the official Papal events from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, you can visit papalvisit.ca.
FNHA Mental Health, Emotional and Cultural Supports
Acknowledging that First Nations survivors, families and leaders have very differing views on the Pope's apology and visit, and that the memories and experiences of residential schools may cause the recurrence of trauma, the FNHA will continue to focus on the mental health and wellness of all BC First Nations and communities:
Partner Support Services for Mental Health and Cultural Supports in BC: