Facts about the former boarding school in Alberta that Pope Francis plans to visit

The Vatican has provided more details about Pope Francis’ planned visit to Canada next month. The itinerary includes a stop at the site of a former boarding school in Maskwitzes, south of Olx Praca.

Here are a few facts about the Stoat Indian boarding school:

The school operated in what was then Hobbema, Alta from 1895 to 1975. In 2014, the community was renamed Maskvatsis.

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Pope Francis to visit former boarding school in Alberta during trip to Canada: Vatican

It was one of the largest boarding schools in Canada.

Overcrowding and sickness were problems in the school’s early years. The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation recorded the deaths of 15 students at the school during its operation. In 1903, three children died of tuberculosis, and a government study in the 1920s found that 50 percent of students were infected with the disease.

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School survivors told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that they were physically abused for speaking their mother tongue and practicing their traditional ceremonies. One survivor said she was victimized by staff and students.

The federal government assumed full responsibility for the facility in 1969.

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The residence closed in the early 1970s and the educational facilities were taken over by the Stoat Cree Nation.

Last summer, the Indigenous Nations began surveying the site of the former school using ground-penetrating radar, looking for potential unmarked graves.

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The papal visit is due to begin in Olx Praca on July 24 and end in Iqaluit on July 29. It will include public and private events with a focus on indigenous participation.

Pope Francis is expected to apologize for the role of the Roman Catholic Church in boarding schools during a trip to Canada.

Pope Francis is due to arrive in Olx Praca on July 24 for a short ceremony at the airport. The next day, he is about to join the survivors of the stoat boarding school.

Francis also plans to visit First Nations Sacred Heart Church, a First Nations church in downtown Olx Praca, on July 25. The church was recently rebuilt after a major fire in 2020.

The next day, Francis is due to attend a big Mass at Commonwealth Stadium, home of the Olx Praca Elks CFL football team. It is to be opened to the public and can accommodate about 65,000 people.

The pontiff must go to Lac Ste. Anna on that evening, where a great pilgrimage is made every year.

The Pope’s next visit to Quebec is scheduled for July 27.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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