"Felt sick": Indigenous people outraged over Pope receiving traditional headdress (VIDEOS)

Jul 26 2022, 3:22 pm

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for those experiencing pain, distress, or trauma as a result of their residential school experience. More information can be found here.


Pope Francis received a traditional headdress after his historic apology for the church’s hand in the residential school system in Canada, and Indigenous people are outraged.

The Pope delivered the long-awaited apology on Monday during a visit to the site of the former Ermineskin Residential School in Maskwacis, Alberta.

“I have come to your native lands to tell you in person of my sorrow, to implore god’s forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation,” said Pope Francis, addressing the crowd in Spanish.

He received the traditional headdress from Chief Wilton Littlechild, a member of the Ermineskin Cree Nation, former commissioner for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and residential school survivor.

The pontiff donned the headdress for a brief moment and didn’t address the crowd.

The image of Pope Francis wearing the traditional headdress elicited a strong reaction from the Indigenous community in Canada and around the world.

Many took to social media to share their anger and disappointment.

“Immediately felt sick seeing the Pope in a headdress,” tweeted @sharensworld.

“Seeing the pope in a headdress is one of the most f**ked up things I’ve ever seen in my life,” tweeted @cedarsageskoden.

@nikitaelyse I hope it has bugs lol #indigenoustiktok #nativetiktok ♬ Tell me something that will piss me off – Artimus Wolz

Many say Pope Francis isn’t worthy of a headdress, which are traditionally given as gifts that come with immense responsibility.

“A headdress has to be earned,” tweeted Christian Big Eagle. “The Pope is head of an organization that raped and murdered Indigenous children.”

For context, Twitter user @emilyjaneriddle explained a little bit about the Cree’s gifting protocol.

“I don’t know how I feel about the Pope receiving a headdress, but you have to know that gifting/protocol for nehiyawak isn’t only about the recipient, it’s about the person giving the gift wanting to open the mind of the person receiving it. It places two people in relationship,” she explained.

Still, others pointed out the unbalanced nature of the apology and questioned whether the headdress would be treated with respect.

“The Pope gets a headdress but my dad’s residential school records are missing? This relationship will never be reciprocal!” tweeted @sparkleplentys.

Pope Francis’ trip marks the fourth papal visit to Canada in almost 40 years and comes after an April apology he delivered before Indigenous delegates for the Catholic Church’s role in the harm caused by residential schools.

During his six-day visit, the Pope will also visit Quebec and Nunavut.

With files from Daily Hive Edmonton reporter Laine Mitchell. 

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