The Papal Site

On September 20, 1987, on the flats where the Mackenzie and Liard Rivers flow together above Fort Simpson, as many as 4,000 people – mostly Dene – gathered to welcome Pope John Paul II. It was the first time any pope had ever visited an Aboriginal community. His Holiness, wearing a caribou-skin vestment, issued a plea for native rights, demanding “a just and equitable degree of self-governing … with a land-base and adequate resources necessary for the development of a viable economy.” Today, the site retains a sense of the sacred, and is used for community gatherings. 

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