Prepare Now for Pope’s Visit, Iqaluit Councilor Says
The papal visit would be a “major event”, the adviser said. Joanasie Akumalik says
Iqaluit should now be preparing to welcome Pope Francis later this year, Councilwoman Joanasie Akumalik said, while Mayor Kenny Bell said the city has not been officially notified of his arrival.
“The city should prepare and plan,” Akumalik said during Tuesday’s council meeting at City Hall.
When Queen Elizabeth visited the capital of the new territory of Nunavut in 2002, the city built a road for her to have a “smooth ride” and cleaned up the area around the river, Akumalik said.
He suggested at least twice at Tuesday’s meeting that Iqaluit should prepare to host the pope, but there was no discussion of that at the meeting.
Media have reported that Pope Francis will include Iqaluit in his itinerary for a trip to Canada this summer.
On April 1, Francis apologized to three delegations of Indigenous peoples from Canada – representatives of Inuit, First Nations and Métis organizations – for the role that some church members played in the abuses of the residential school system. Indians in Canada.
These schools, run by Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, were part of the federal government’s plan to separate Indigenous peoples from their cultures.
When Francis apologized to the Vatican three weeks ago, he said he would like to come to Canada soon. For years, the Pope has been asked to apologize in Canada to those directly affected by residential schools.
“We know this will be a major event,” Akumalik said, referring to the religious leader’s potential visit.
But Bell added that city officials have not been officially notified of any ongoing papal visits.
“We haven’t seen anything official yet,” the mayor said.
Despite this, in an email statement released earlier this month, Premier PJ Akeeagok also referenced a planned visit by Pope Francis to Iqaluit.
In it he said, “I believe the visit to Iqaluit will be another opportunity to engage with residential school survivors and their families and to apologize for the role of the Church in the systemic oppression of Inuit.
RCMP Staff Sergeant. Robert Gallant, who was at Tuesday’s council meeting to provide a monthly report on police activity, echoed the mayor when asked if the police were ready for the security and crowd control issues that accompany a papal visit.
“There are all kinds of discussions in the background. There’s nothing official yet,” Gallant said.