- The Omicron COVID-19 variant has postponed an Indigenous elders’ trip to the Vatican.
- The Canadian Conference of the Catholic Bishops and the 3 First Nations groups sending delegations had planned to reschedule the trip to the earliest time in 2022.
Uncertainty related to the emerging Omicron COVID-19 variant has rescheduled an Indigenous elders’ trip to the Vatican.
First Nations, Metis, and Inuit delegations planned to depart for the Vatican on Dec. 14.
Adeline Webber, a member of the Kukhhiittan Clan of the Teslin Tlingit Nation, was selected as one of 13 members organized by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).
On Dec. 7, the AFN announced that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the three First Nations groups sending delegations had decided to reschedule the trip to the earliest available time in 2022. The Dec. 7 statement says the choice was made out of concern for the risk of COVID-19 infection, especially for elderly delegates and those who live in rural communities.
“We take comfort in the desire, carried to us by the Holy See, that the safety of the delegation shall inform any decision to move ahead. It is vital to note that the delegation is postponed but not canceled,” the statement reads.
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It says the evolving situation with the new COVID-19 variant presents too significant a threat at this time. As health experts learn more about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant, future travel plans will be assessed.
“Our shared commitment to walking together towards healing and reconciliation remains strong. We understand that the Holy See is committed to again scheduling this visit in the New year, and we look further to the opportunity for knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, Indigenous Elders, and youth to participate in meetings with Pope Francis,” the statement reads.
The tour to the Vatican was scheduled to precede “a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation” that the Pope pledged to make to Canada at an unspecified future date.
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