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The Longest Way Home

Antonio Denti | Vatican City and Canada

Vatican City.
Indigenous Canadians at the Vatican to meet Pope Francis.

This is a story of deep survival. It is also the story of the beginning of a possible, if difficult, reconciliation. But, most of all, it is the story of an apology. 

It is a quiet the apology here, in this age of loud bangs and turmoil,  that could trigger systemic change. Not great scientific innovations or momentous revolutions.but three, simple words: I am sorry. 

In April 2022 it was quite something to see Indigenous Canadians, proud in their costumes, under Bernini's colonnade at the Vatican waiting to meet the Pope. When the impressive monument was being built, in 1600, their colonial catastrophe was starting.

It was also quite something only a few months later to see the ageing Pope, in deep pain for a troubled knee, travelling to Canada's desolate plains, to the Arctic frontier, to the sacred lakes, to the ancestral lands to say: 'I am sorry''.

Systemic change may have started then as the beginning of a difficult path of reconciliation in the scarred lands. But a revolution in human ways to deal with the upheavals of history. 

This is a story of deep survival. It is also the story of the beginning of a possible, if difficult, reconciliation. But, most of all, it is the story of an apology.

It is the apology in this case, that could trigger systemic change. Not great scientific innovations or momentous revolutions.but three, simple words: I am sorry.

In April 2022 it was quite something to see Indigenous Canadians, proud in their costumes, under Bernini's colonnade attheVatican waiting to meetthePope. Whentheimpressive monument was being built, in 1600, their colonial catastrophe was starting.

That catastrophe would result eventually in the infamous residential schools, church-run institutions used by the Canadian administration to uproot Indigenous children from their families and culture and to try 'assimilate' them by teaching them to forget their language, identity and tradition.

Pope Francis received the Indigenous delegations and apologized for the first time. The Indigenous, however, invited him to come and apologize on their ancestral lands. In front of all their people.

And few months later, in July, Francis did.

It was also quite something to seetheageing Pope, in deep pain for a troubled knee, travelling to Canada's desolate plains, totheArctic frontier, tothesacred lakes, totheancestral lands to say: 'I am sorry''.

Systemic change may have started then as the beginning of a difficult path of reconciliation in the scarred lands. But a revolution in human ways to deal with the upheavals of history.

Email: antclick@gmail.com

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