MASKWACIS, Alberta (Reuters) - An anguished rendering of Canada's nationwide anthem in Cree by an indigenous girl as tears streamed down her face marked one in all a number of emotional moments within the first leg of Pope Francis's apology tour in Canada.

The unscripted second capped a ceremony fraught with symbolism for hundreds of residential college survivors who sat in sombre silence as Francis stated how "deeply sorry" he was for the Catholic church's position in Canada's abusive residential college system.

It was a long-awaited apology on First Nations soil.

"It is a particular second for survivors," stated Phil Fontaine, a residential college survivor and former Meeting of First Nations Nationwide Chief, who was on the occasion. "For people who desperately wanted to listen to the phrases 'I am sorry' or one thing to that impact, I believe it was an vital day for them."

The pope spoke to about 2,000 individuals assembled round him in an open-air, round auditorium whereas extra watched on massive screens from a distance.

Many have been survivors of the residential college system that, over greater than a century, forcibly separated greater than 150,000 indigenous kids from their households and subjected many to hunger, beatings and sexual abuse in what Canada's Reality and Reconciliation Fee known as "cultural genocide."

Some wore indigenous regalia whereas others wore orange shirts to mark the legacy of the residential college system and youngsters who by no means got here dwelling from the establishments.

Contributors carried a 50-metre-long purple banner with the names of hundreds of lacking indigenous kids by the auditorium earlier than the speech.

Some watched intently because the pope spoke, whereas others leaned on one another. Some wept.

When the pope's translator learn out how "deeply sorry" the pontiff was, individuals cheered.

The pope begged for forgiveness at the same time as he stated "there have been many excellent cases of devotion and care for kids" on the abusive colleges.

After the pope spoke, Chief Wilton Littlechild positioned a feather headdress on the pontiff's head as the gang cheered. Quickly after, the indigenous girl in regalia sang the anthem in Cree because the pope watched.

That second was unscripted, and occurred "organically," stated an official with the papal go to.

Shortly after the pope stopped talking, an unidentified girl yelled: "Repudiate the doctrine of discovery! Resign the papal bulls!"

The papal bulls have been 15th-century edicts that justified taking indigenous land, and plenty of indigenous leaders have known as on the pope to formally rescind them.

(Writing by Anna Mehler Paperny, enhancing by Deepa Babington)


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