When visiting Fort Simpson, John Paul II affirmed the dignity of indigenous peoples in Canada and prayed for them.
St. John Paul II visited Canada on multiple occasions, touring various locations and meeting with a wide variety of groups.
In 1987 he made a special stop to Fort Simpson, a historic trading village with a large indigenous population.
While there he made a special address, affirming the human dignity of First Nations peoples.
He further explained the Church’s renewed commitment to native peoples’ freedom, “Let me recall that … my predecessor Pope Paul III proclaimed … the rights of the native peoples of those times. He affirmed their dignity, defended their freedom and asserted that they could not be enslaved or deprived of their goods or ownership. That has always been the Church’s position (Cfr. Pauli III Pastorale Oficium, die 29 maii 1537: DENZ.-SCHÖNM. 1495). My presence among you today marks my reaffirmation and reassertion of that teaching.”
He then ended his address with a simple prayer for the native peoples of Canada, desiring that they be blessed with God’s peace.
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, grant you, the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, a spirit of wisdom and insight to know him clearly.
May he enlighten your innermost vision that you may know the great hope to which he has called you.