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Posted: July 27, 2022

Akisqnuk Chief prays the rosary in Ktunaxa with Pope Francis

By Erin Knutson

Chief of ?akisqnuk First Nation Donald Sam was chosen as a representative of his people to sit with Pope Francis earlier this week in Edmonton Alta., after accepting an invitation to pray the rosary in Ktunaxa during the Pope’s penitential pilgrimage.

“It’s a deep honour to represent the Ktunaxa people and to pray the rosary in Ktunaxa with the Pope,” said Sam.

The ‘penitential pilgrimage’ as quoted by Pope Francis is an effort to reconcile with Indigenous communities by apologizing for the atrocities committed by the missionaries of the Catholic Church at the residential schools to promote healing from generational trauma.

“To appreciate the spiritual path, to have the leaders of society acknowledge those gifts of other people and to permit them to speak their truth to inspire connection with a higher power or the Creator and to move forward with those differences is inspiring,” said the ?akisqnuk Chief.

Sam was one of four Indigenous leaders called to pray with Francis during the Edmonton leg of his six-day journey, which proceeded to Quebec City Wednesday (July 27), and is expected to culminate in Iqaluit, Nunavut at the end of the week.

Indigenous Catholic pilgrimage site Lac St. Anne was where Sam prayed the rosary with Pope Francis on Tuesday (July 26) as part of a series of papal events that began Monday (July 25), following the Pope’s arrival in Edmonton on Sunday.

Francis’s arrival at the Edmonton International Airport included a greeting from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous governor-general and First Nations representatives, beginning a new historic event for the world.

“One of my mentors said of spirituality and religion that there is the Creator and different ways of worshipping. My people were killed for their spirituality and beaten for their beliefs – we appreciate this pilgrimage,” said Sam.

To Read Pope Francis’ message of reconciliation ‘Through the Cross’ visit Pope Tells Indigenous Catholics in Canada: Christ Offers Example of Reconciliation Through Suffering| National Catholic Register (

Please contact the Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free 1 (800) 721-0066 or 24hr Crisis Support Line 1 (866) 925-4419 if you require emotional support or assistance.

Lead image: Chief of ?akisqnuk First Nation Donald Sam. e-KNOW file photo


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