Residential schools: twice as many calls to the help line

The Pope's visit stirred up a lot of emotions among First Nations members, who were twice as likely as usual to seek comfort in the helpline assigned to them.

Residential schools: twice as many calls to the help line

The Pope's visit stirred up a lot of emotions among First Nations members, who were twice as likely as usual to seek comfort in the helpline assigned to them.

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Last January, the National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line, which Indigenous people can call for immediate emotional support and referrals, was receiving an average of 121 calls per day.

But with Pope Francis coming to Canada, on a visit of apology and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, the lines have been busier than usual. More than double the number of calls received.

"The volume of calls was much higher this week, at 160 calls on July 24, 277 calls on July 25 and 244 calls on July 26," Kyle Fournier, media relations manager for Indigenous Canada.

These requests come from across the country, says the spokesperson, who clarifies that “people who call the crisis lines express a range of different emotions”.

Increased capacity

Officials had predicted this increase. “The Line increased its capacity before, during and after the Pope's visit in anticipation of increased demand.”

Crisis line counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-925-4419.

In Quebec, 60 mental wellness and cultural support workers have been retained to support activities surrounding the papal visit. They offered their services in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré and on the Plains of Abraham.

For the next leg of the Pope's journey, in Nunavut, 40 health and cultural support services will be on site, eight of whom are clinical advisors.

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