“Why is the Pope Coming to Canada?”, the Toronto Star headline queried. Guess where he landed? Edmonton OF COURSE! Here comes the article:
“The Pope landed in Edmonton Sunday to begin a six-day “penitential voyage,” during which he’s expected to engage Indigenous people across the country, address the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system and take steps towards reconciliation. For many survivors and their families, this trip — and Francis’ apology in Rome four months ago — is reopening old wounds, while some Indigenous Catholics see it as an opportunity to heal. Here’s what Francis did on Day 1 and how people are reacting.”
The Star goes on to put the horrific past in context. “Residential schools operated for more than a century in Canada, tearing Indigenous children from their families and placing them in institutions meant to obliterate their culture. They were government-funded, and the Catholic Church ran about 60 per cent of them. Many children endured emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Thousands died.”
The Star tantalizes is readers by going Deeper. Go deeper: A lake of miracles. A legacy of cruelty. Here’s what awaits Francis on Turtle Island.
But wait! There is even more The Star promises: More: Here’s what Francis brings to this moment in reconciliation.
But that is not the end of the story! A reporter, Pamela Palmater, looks at the broader picture. Another pope’s apology isn’t enough. Here’s how the Catholic Church’s cover-ups and hypocrisy continue to this day.
I began this blog by writing what you have just read – then clicked on the first link and began the journey of the arrival of the Pope. I watched the endless YouTube video – it is endless, brace yourself. The plane has landed – everyone is standing about, people streaming on the plane and off the plane. No idea, who they are. Some fancy dressed men – high up the food chain as I call it – get on the plane. You can tell of their importance because of their dress – black with red sashes. Had a discussion with myself at this point.
Me: Look at all those men. All of them and so many others, including the Pope of course, are in the middle – they intercede between me and my God (if I were of the Catholic faith). I am encouraged, can and do speak to Allah directly through prayer.
Alter Ego: So you have eliminated the middle men.
Me: Could not have said it better. Precisely. But it is even more complicated than that. I, when as a Christian, pray to Jesus and then he talks to God. Another middle man, a revered one but still not the real thing. Then occasionally, if I am of the Roman Catholic faith, I can call upon Mary to help me out.
Alter Ego: But there is a Jesus in the Islamic faith.
Me: Indeed there is! He is a Prophet, the last prophet before Mohammed. But Jesus is not the son of God, and there is no reliable scripture that mentions that Jesus makes this assertion. Jesus was not crucified on the cross, instead led a worshipful and productive life for about forty more years. The Christian faith preaches that there will be an Apocalypse – the Islamic faith calls it the Great Tribulation – it is the same phenomena. It is Jesus that comes to save humanity, comes to save the day. So in everyday words: Jesus is HUGE to Muslims.
Alter Ego: What about Mary?
Me: Mary is the Mother of Jesus. She is a major figure – mentioned constantly and consistently in the Quran. She was a virgin before conception – there are differing accounts of how Jesus was conceived – it was by a spirit or an Angel. She was humiliated by her village but Jesus, as an infant spoke out on her behalf. She led an exemplary life – all Muslim women are encouraged to follow her example and take refuge in the esteem she is held by Allah in the faith.
Alter Ego: Sort of, looks what she went through and she still made it.
Me: Yes! And she did not have a husband that she had to cook or clean up after.
But meanwhile, back at the video. The waiting was endless – even Trudeau had to stand around waiting for ages. Suddenly a tiny white car appears guarded by several men. The Pope does not walk down the stairs of the plane and we do not see him get out of the plane – just the car. I wheel chair is wheeled into place, he sits in it and them finally the fun begins.
Again endless and I have no idea who all the people are that surround him or greet him. Trudeau looks different, barely recognizable and there was a distinguished woman, beautify dressed with equal standing to Trudeau. I had no idea who she was until I read the account in The Star.
The Pope and all the people gather in an airplane hanger. And then something of sheer beauty and eloquence takes place. Indigenous people with drums and chanting play their sacred music. I wept listening to it.
Alter Ego: Why did you cry?
Me: The sheer wonder of it all. The Residential schools sought to deprive children of their heritage, of their beliefs of their language and of their music. But it survived and was being performed to welcome the Oppressor, as that is what the Catholic Church was and perhaps still is. The Human Spirit is victorious in the end.
Alter Ego: What an interesting way to look at it.
Me: Well unique, that is for sure! Did not see anybody else crying. I was by myself in my treasured apartment so I was weeping alone.
Then the real fun began – the Chief, the performers and other Indigenous peoples met with the Pope. The Pope charming, happy, exuberant, to meet them. He kissed the hand of an Indigenous woman. At the end of the long line were the guys in dresses with red sashes. The Pope seemed happier to be with the Indigenous people, that was easy to see.
Next I read the following which explained everything. Here is more from The Star article.
“It was a solemn start to Pope Francis’s highly anticipated Canadian tour as he was pushed in his wheelchair, out of the midday sun and into the shade of an airplane hangar in Edmonton, flanked by Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to meet the waiting crowd on Sunday.
But once he’d settled into a chair to greet a small crowd of politicians and Indigenous leaders, the personal warmth for which he’s known began to shine through.
He appeared to speak animatedly with Treaty 6 Grand Chief George Arcand Jr., the first to greet him, firmly clasped the hand of Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and kissed the hand of residential school survivor Alma Desjarlais of the Frog Lake First Nation.
Arcand Jr. called it a humbling experience to welcome the Pope, adding he’d asked him to join a path of healing by speaking with survivors of residential schools.
“I asked the Pope to walk with us in this new journey,” Arcand Jr. said.
Vicki Arcand, a survivor, called meeting Francis a “lifetime experience,” but said she has mixed emotions.”
The scene was accurately reported – one could see the personal warmth of the Pope shine through. I learned the name of the Grand Chief and learned the identity and significance of the woman whose hand was kissed. But most of all I found out who the impeccably groomed woman was: it was the Governor General Mary Simon. I felt most stupid and uninformed but need I remind everyone that I returned to Canada on May 8, 2022 after not living in Edmonton for fifty-five years. Give me a break – I shall catch up and surpass most lazy Canadians in the knowledge of this fair land.
There shall be no photographs. Click on the link to view the video of the arrival.
The Pope last visited Edmonton in 1985. I have a highly personal story about the events of that visit – rather unbelievable. I also have a redeeming story of the residential schools – the work of two giving and humble people, a couple united in marriage. He a principal of a Residential School, run by the United Church of Canada near Edmonton, his wife always at his side helping him in his endeavors. I not only knew them, I was related to them. They, no deceased, were the parents of my first husband. He does not want their story told and he despises my blog. I do not mention him by name. He is still alive – actually returned to Canada in 2017 when I did – I to live in Vancouver for two dreadful years before my return to the USA and then the UAE. I now regard the five months in Abu Dhabi as my Edmonton Appreciation Course. Living in that hot, sandy, corrupt, evil and oppressive place made me so appreciate everything about Canada. I particularly enjoy the freedom of expression and freedom of association, the freedom of the press and the unfettered use of the Internet.
Once thought when I was free of censorship that I would speak of the evils and oppression and horrible working conditions of many if not most of the 78% of the population who are not Emirati. But perhaps not, it is so negative, not at all inspirational.
Alter Ego: Any other reason Alexis?
Me: Well I guess there is another reason. Why do I think I can change anything by speaking out. If Allah has been unable to effect any change to make that rich land humane – why do I think I can. I will emphasize the good things about Canada and try to influence it in good ways during my remaining years here – the land of my birth.
Tantalize is to torment or tease (someone) with the sight or promise of something that is unobtainable. Many synonyms: tease, torment, torture, bait; tempt, entice, lure, titillate, intrigue, allure, beguile; excite, fascinate, make someone’s mouth water, lead on, keep hanging on. Its antonyms are to gratify and satisfy.
Alexis is perhaps making someone’s mouth water, luring, enticing and beguiling readers with a promise of personal stories and true tales of woe from the United Arab Emirates? Will she reveal all in order to gratify and satisfy? Or are these true tales unobtainable? Time will tell.
Time will tell is a proverb meaning that something will become known in the course of time. In other words the truth or correctness of something will only be established at some time in the future.