AMERICA/CANADA - The history of Catholic missionaries among Canadian Inuit: many testimonies collected during the polar expeditions

Wednesday, 30 March 2022


Fermo (Agenzia Fides) - "An exceptional meeting that represents a milestone in the history of new relations between the indigenous peoples of Canada and the Catholic Church". Renato Zavatti, President of the S. Zavatti Polar Geographical Institute of Fermo, reached by Fides, expressed his enthusiasm for the recent meetings between Pope Francis and the representatives of the Canadian Inuit, specifically a delegation from Métis and another from Inuit, accompanied by the bishops of the Canadian Church (see Fides, 28/3/2022). "Our Institute - continues Zavatti - is ready to collaborate and promote all the initiatives that can foster dialogue and reconciliation in the light of the sad events that have occurred in boarding schools. The Catholic Church has already taken important steps in this direction and we too are confident of a positive resumption of relations".
In the Archive of what is the oldest research institute on the Arctic and its peoples in Italy, founded in 1944 by Silvio Zavatti, there are many testimonies collected during polar expeditions, which tell the story of Catholic missionaries among the Canadian Inuit, which allows us to learn more about the history of the 'mysterious ice people'.
"We trust that the Church will take another step towards reconciliation in the general audience with the Holy Father on Friday, April 1, 2022 - President Zavatti said -. Our Institute thanks Pope Francis and the representatives of the Canadian Church and trusts that this is the beginning of a new path in respect for the traditions and customs of traditional peoples". On the occasion of his apostolic trip to Canada, on September 10, 1984, Pope John Paul II said: "You are the first inhabitants of this immense region of North America. For many centuries you have marked it with your footprints, your traditions, your civilization. Without losing any of your cultural identity, you have understood that the Christian message was destined for you by God, as for others. God gave the earth to all men". (AP/GF) (Agenzia Fides, 30/3/2022)