An Indigenous group is on a “healing march” from Northern Quebec to the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City — a 275-kilometre journey — to witness Pope Francis’ visit next week.  

Marchers began their journey Thursday from the site of the former Pointe-Bleu residential school, north of Roberval, Que. They’ll travel 45 kilometres a day for six days.

The march was organized by Paumun Meshkenu, an organization that promotes reconciliation.

“[My mother] suffered a lot,” said Dr. Stanley Vollant, the group’s founder and the son of a residential school survivor.

“I still feel the suffering from those years.”

Participants say the march is about being close with others who feel the same pain as they await the pope‘s visit, where he is expected to offer an apology for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system.

They’ll arrive in Wendake on July 26, and on the Plains of Abraham the following day, where they’ll see the Pope.

“We hope that the Pope and the church are going to see our message: that we are still here and that they have to understand us,” said marcher Jay Launiere-Mathias.

The public is invited to join the march from Wendake to Quebec City on the morning of July 27.

About 16,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are expected to gather at the Plains of Abraham to watch Pope Francis’ address.

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