Pope in Canada, to offer apology for indigenous abuse

STORY: Pope Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane that his visit to Canada will be one of penance.

(In Italian) "Let us be careful on this journey, which as I said is a trip of penance."

The pope is set to make an apology – on Canadian soil and on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church - for the abuse that indigenous children endured at mostly church-run residential schools.

He landed in Edmonton, Alberta on Sunday, greeted by Governor General Mary Simon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and indigenous leaders ahead of his week-long visit.

After a short performance, the Pope met and exchanged gifts with several indigenous leaders.

More than 150,000 indigenous children were taken to residential schools between 1881 and 1996. Separated from their families, many children were physically and sexually abused while forced to abandon their language and traditions.

While Canada's leaders have known about high numbers of children dying at the schools since 1907, the issue was thrust to the forefront with the discovery of suspected unmarked graves at or near former residential school sites last year.

The Pope is scheduled to visit a former residential school this and meet with indigenous people, including survivors.

But many survivors and indigenous leaders say they are hoping for more than an apology... such as justice, financial compensation and artifact recovery.

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