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The Papal Site

On the floodplain where the Liard River flows into the great Mackenzie, a crowd of Northerners gathered in 1984 awaiting the arrival of Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately, fog prevented His Holiness’ plane from landing and the visit was postponed. Three years later, the Vatican once again turned its eyes toward the Northwest Territories and the Pope finally arrived in Fort Simpson, holding a mass at this site for a crowd of 3,500.

Today, three structures still remain from the Pope’s visits: a 15 metre-high teepee log frame, used as a stage; a log-framed Drum Circle structure that reaches 38 metres in diameter; and a concrete podium/monument in the form of a cross, representing the four directions and the four natural elements.

This area of the Ehdaa Historical Site is still used in summer gatherings to celebrate and pray, as well as for community events like the annual Open Sky Festival.