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Support on hand during Pope’s visit

Baker Lake counsellor proud of people’s healing journey
Mona Autut, community counsellor for Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre in Baker Lake, is seen here during the Pope’s tour of Canada this summer. She was part of a team on hand to support anyone in need of help during the emotional event. Photo courtesy of Mona Autut

With potential for the Pope’s visit and tour of Canada to open old wounds, Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre had community counsellors on hand and in-person during the recent trip to provide support.

One of those was Mona Autut, a counsellor in Baker Lake.

“We had to be prepared to support anyone who would possibly break down from the residential school experiences,” said Autut, who travelled along with the Pope’s tour from Alberta to Iqaluit this summer. “We had to be on standby.”

She said there were some people who needed support, but most of all she saw a healing journey first hand.

“For my own experience, it was touching,” said Autut. “For some people, it was a healing journey.”

She was glad to see families begin to move on after the Pope’s apology for the church’s role in residential schools, as well as his admission of genocide.

“Everybody’s different,” said Autut. “Some people didn’t really move on. Everybody grieves differently.”

Back home in Baker Lake, she found perception of the Pope’s visit to be mixed.

“Some people were happy and some people were, ‘What good is it going to do?’” said Autut. “Some people were saying this is the start – we have to start our healing journey somewhere.”

Everybody goes on that healing journey at their own pace and under their own circumstances, she said. Autut added that she was proud of those who were healing.

“I was very fortunate to be part of this historical event,” she said.