Encounters with Popes Prior to Francis

John Paul II’s Visit 1987

On the morning of September 20, 1987, Pope John Paul II joined Canada’s Indigenous Peoples in a spiritual celebration in Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories.

In 1984, the Pope told the organizers of his tour that he would like to meet with Aboriginal Peoples in their homeland and had accepted the invitation of the Dene and four national Indigenous organizations to visit the Dene homeland – Denendeh.  Unfortunately, that visit to Fort Simpson was cancelled due to heavy fog.  However, the Holy Father promised to return.

Three years later, he honoured his promise by extending his planned 1987 visit to the United States by an extra day to complete his pastoral visit with the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.  During the his stay in Canada, he delivered a message to Aboriginal Peoples, held a private audience with leaders of the four national Indigenous organizations: the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada, the Metis National Council and the Native Council of Canada (now the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples), and celebrated Sunday Mass.