Pope Francis officially touched down in Alberta on Sunday (July 24) morning to begin his Canadian tour of what he has stated is a ‘pilgrimage of penance’ for Indigenous abuse through the residential school system.
The Pope was accompanied by a team of approximately 120 people including members of the Vatican Accredited Media Personnel, members of the papal staff including security and key Vatican officials.
The Pope was greeted upon his arrival to Canada by the Governor General of Canada Mary Simon and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Premier Jason Kenney was also a part of the welcome party at Edmonton International Airport.
Grand Chief of the Confederacy of the Treaty Six First Nations, George Arcand Jr. from the Alexander First Nation was among the first to meet and shake hands with the Pope, governor general and prime minister.
At the private airport hanger to welcome the Pope upon his landing was the Logan Alexis Singers from Treaty Six with a drum circle and an arrival guard with soldiers from 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG).
There were no formal speeches by the Pope or his delegation at the airport and media officials state his first public words to be spoken in Canada will be on Monday (July 25), when he visits the former Ermineskin Residential School site in Maskwacis.
Many are expecting the Pope to make a formal apology on this trip to survivors of the Canadian Indian Residential School system.
Though arriving on a Sunday, it is significant that the Pope will not celebrate a public mass on the day of his arrival. On Tuesday (July 26), he will celebrate an open-air mass at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
The papal motorcade left the airport shortly after the Pope’s greetings and made its way to St. Joseph’s Seminary where the Pope and his support staff will stay during their time in Alberta.