‘I had to speak out’: Indigenous woman explains why she sang to Pope Francis in Maskwacis

The woman who spontaneously sang in Cree to Pope Francis after his apology in Maskwacis on Monday says she did it for her family members affected by residential schools.

The unscripted singing came after the Pope was gifted a headdress that he wore on stage.

“It’s just the healing my family needs. My brother…he was through residential schools,” Si Pih Ko told CTV News in Lac Ste. Anne on Tuesday.

“It affected our family too much, I had to speak out.”

Si Pih Ko cried during her delivery and was cheered by the crowd behind her when she finished singing.

Pope Francis and chiefs looked on from the stage as Si Pih Ko sang and delivered a message for them.

“I was speaking the law of the land directly to him and the ones that were standing behind him,” Si Pih Ko explained. “I noticed the corporate chiefs are behind him, and not behind me; that’s what made me cry the most, because they were standing there strong with him.”

She told CTV News Edmonton many people have since recognized and approached her. 

“I couldn’t take two steps without somebody thanking me for their healing. And I said, ‘I’m on a healing journey as well.'” 

Pope Francis left Edmonton for Quebec City on Wednesday.

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