Rome, Italy — Leaders of BC’s First Nations are in Rome to attend papal audiences with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI to discuss the Catholic Church’s role in the Indian Residential School system. The first papal audience will include several BC Chiefs, and leaders, in addition to Métis, Inuit and other First Nations leaders from across Canada. A second, private audience has also been scheduled and will include National Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations and Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit and First Nations Leadership Council.

The audiences will be held on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at approximately 10:30 AM CEST (1:30 AM PDT). First Nations leaders will also meet the Superior General of the Oblates.

“These audiences represent an unprecedented and historic opportunity to have a dialogue with His Holiness about the Catholic Church’s role in the administration and operation of residential schools and the harm inflicted upon generations of aboriginal people across Canada,” said Grand Chief Edward John, a member of the political executive of the First Nations Summit and the First Nations Leadership Council.