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Alberta delegation prepares to travel to Vatican to meet Pope Francis.

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After a delay due to COVID-19, a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders from across the country is preparing to travel to the Vatican to meet with the Pope. This much-anticipated trip is meant as a way to further truth and reconciliation with the Catholic church. Chris Chacon reports on a special mass that was held in Edmonton to bless some of the delegates ahead of their departure.

It was an emotional Sunday mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church of the First Peoples in Edmonton.

“We will pray for the success of our delegation and the well-being of all who are going,” one parishioner said in a prayer.

The Edmonton church is a national parish for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people and its pastor, alongside Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders from Alberta and others across Canada are about to travel to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis.

“April 1st, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. is the time general audience, particularity for the primary delegates and secondary delegates directly to meet Pope Francis, that’s where I will be meeting him,” Father Susai Jesu said.

The visit to Rome was supposed to happen last year following the discoveries of un-marked graves at former residentials schools in Canada.

But the trip was postponed due to the pandemic.

“It’s very much needed. It comes to the point where it’s almost like a boiling point,” Elder Fernie Marty said.

But now it’s back on, and Jesu will be representing Sacred Heart as part of the second delegation. And he has a special message for the pope.

“Please come to Canada and be with our people and come to Sacred Heart Church, a national parish, and if possible bless our church. Your presence and prayers will immensely heal millions and millions in Canada,” Jesu said.

“For him, that would be the greatest thing to come to Canada and officially make that apology, I believe that would be a godsend, a blessing for all Canadians,” Marty said.

An invite to further truth and reconciliation would help heal many people in Alberta, whether the Pope comes to Edmonton or not.

“Our people will always find a way to heal and more forward,” Jesu said.

The Alberta delegation is expected to return April 4.

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