Here’s what you need to know about the Pope’s visit in Quebec

Pope Francis will be in Quebec City from July 27 to July 29 as part of a week-long trip to Canada to advance reconciliation and healing between the Roman Catholic Church and the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities who suffered from years of abuse in the residential school system.

Here’s a guide to the events you can expect during the visit.

What public events are planned when the Pope comes to Quebec City?

The Pope will arrive in Quebec City on Wednesday, July 27 just after 3 pm ET.

His arrival and subsequent public address and meeting with government officials will be broadcast on giant screens on the Plains of Abraham at two locations: behind the Manège militaire de Québec and in front of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec. The sites on the Plains will be able to welcome up to 160,000 people and will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Thursday, July 28, the Pope will hold a mass at 10 am ET at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica, about 30 kilometers northeast of Quebec City.

Picture shows the inside of a basilica, with people seated on church benches.
Seventy per cent of the seats inside the Basilica are reserved for Indigenous participants, including residential school survivors and their families. (Guylaine Bussiere/Radio-Canada)

Spots at the basilica are limited and tickets for the general public are already sold out, but the event will also be broadcast on the Plains.

According to the papal visit website there will also be cultural activities before and after these main events, but details about those activities are still being determined.

All of these events are free to the public.

The Pope will leave Quebec City for Iqaluit on July 29.

Where can I watch the mass on July 28?

Seats inside the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica are reserved for Indigenous participants, delegations from Eastern Canadian dioceses and some government officials. The planning committee for the papal visit has confirmed residential school survivors will get front-row seats to the event.

Some 10,000 seats will be set up outside of the shrine, with the mass being broadcast there on giant screens. Two thousand of those seats are for the general public, but all the tickets have already been snatched up.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec is in charge of making sure spots are distributed fairly among Indigenous communities in the province. Indigenous people who wish to participate in the event must contact their nation’s designated representative to secure a spot.

The planning committee for the papal visit in Quebec is asking those who don’t have tickets to avoid the area and to watch the mass on the Plains of Abraham instead, where the mass will be broadcast on giant screens for anyone to watch.

Picture of a man talking in front of a stand with microphones.
Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre, a spokesperson for the papal visit planning committee, said it’s important to find the right balance between security and making sure survivors feel welcome. (Emilie Warren/CBC)

The mass will also be live-streamed on the papal visit website.

It will be held in Spanish, the Pope’s native language, but there will be English and French subtitles on the outdoor screens. The mass will also be translated into 12 Indigenous languages ​​on the papal visit website.

What should I bring if I plan to attend the events?

The planning committee is advising people to bring their own lawn chairs, small umbrellas or parasols to protect themselves from the sun, and coolers with food and snacks. People should also bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Water bottles will be distributed for anyone who needs one at the basilica, and water bottle refill stations will be available at all the sites where the mass is broadcast. The city of Quebec has also said there will be misting machines on the Plains of Abraham to help people cool off.

The planning committee says there will be sufficient washrooms at each site. Medical personnel will also be stationed at each site.

How can I get to the site?

No car traffic will be allowed to and from the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica. Ticket holders must use a shuttle service that will bring them to the site. Over 80 shuttles are planned for this event. The shuttles will be departing from two locations: the Vidéotron ExpoCité Center in Quebec City, and the Mont-Sainte-Anne parking lot.

The shuttles will run between 5 am and 7 am, but people are asked to arrive between 4:30 am and 6:30 am because they must go through a security checkpoint before they can embark.

Bird view picture of the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica and its surrounding area and streets.
There won’t be any parking or car access at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica on the day of the mass. (Claude Bellemare/Radio-Canada)

Those who are camping or staying at a hotel in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré will be able to walk to the basilica and pass the security checkpoint directly at the site.

The city of Quebec is asking those who plan to attend the event on the Plains of Abraham to walk there or take public transportation to avoid traffic congestion downtown.

What sort of support will be available for survivors and their families?

Indigenous Services Canada has partnered with the Catholic Church to ensure residential school survivors and their loved ones have access to trauma-informed wellness support systems, including traditional healers and elders, throughout the papal visit. Mental health support workers will also be present at each site.

National helplines and other mental wellness services will continue to be available during the papal visit:

What impact will there be on traffic?

Highway 138 will be closed to traffic in both directions on July 28, when the Pope delivers his mass. Quebec’s Transport Ministry and the municipality of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré are expected to announce exact locations and times of traffic closures next Monday.

In Quebec City, Mayor Bruno Marchand is asking people to avoid driving in Old Quebec and the Plains of Abraham as much as possible, and to work from home if they can. Traffic disruptions are expected in the downtown area and in the area around airport Jean Lesage.

More details will be shared on this page as new information becomes available.

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