Has a pope visited Canada before?
Pope Francis will be the second pope to visit Canada. Pope St. John Paul II made trips there in 1984, 1987, and 2002, the latter of which was for World Youth Day in Toronto. Though John Paul also visited Quebec City and Edmonton during his visits, no pope has ventured as far north in Canada as Francis will have when he touches down in Iqaluit.
Another notable point: Sacred Heart parish in Edmonton was in 1991 was designated a National Parish of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit, the first of its kind in Canada.
Which indigenous groups will Pope Francis meet with in Canada?
During his visit, the pope is set to meet with both indigenous leaders and Catholics who are indigenous. Canada’s indigenous people belong to the Métis, Inuit, and First Nations groups.
Francis held private meetings with representatives of the Métis, Inuit, and First Nations peoples at the Vatican at the end of March and beginning of April, and has spoken about the sorrow and solidarity he expressed for the harm they have suffered.
Why now? The timing
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission report was released in 2015, and requested an apology from the pope for the abuses it uncovered within one year of its release.
The pope’s poor health has impeded some of his trips and events this year, but the condition of his knee has slowly improved with rest in recent weeks.
Pope Francis' health
The 85-year-old pope has been suffering from health problems of late, and has used a wheelchair frequently for months due to a knee injury.
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He was scheduled to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan July 2-7, but postponed the trip “at the request of his doctors.”
Pope Francis' full itinerary in Canada
Here is a more detailed look at Pope Francis’ most recent itinerary.
He is expected to arrive in Edmonton, Alberta at 11:20 a.m. local time July 24, and to receive an official welcome before taking the remainder of the day to rest.
The next day, July 25, the pope will meet at 10 a.m. with members of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in the unincorporated community of Maskwacis, near Edmonton. This will not be the first time the pope has met with Canadian indigenous people; in March, Pope Francis met with representatives of the Métis and Inuit indigenous peoples, and with the Canadian Catholic bishops, both at the Vatican.
Then, at 4:45 pm that same day, he will meet with indigenous Catholics at Sacred Heart parish in Edmonton.