House Speaker to Lead All-Party Canadian Delegation to Canonization of First North American Aboriginal Saint

October 18, 2012 - At the request of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons, will lead the all-party Canadian delegation attending the canonization mass for Kateri Tekakwitha on October 21, 2012, at the Vatican. Kateri Tekakwitha is the first North American Aboriginal person to become a Catholic saint.

The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and the Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, will also be part of the delegation taking part in the canonization mass at the Vatican.

“The story of Kateri Tekakwitha is pious and it is powerful,” said Speaker Scheer. “Her elevation to sainthood is a momentous occasion for Canadian Catholics and many First Nations people, as well as a deep honour for Canada.”

Kateri Tekakwitha, known as Lily of the Mohawks, was born in 1656 to a Mohawk father and Christian Algonquin mother in present-day New York State. Shortly after her baptism at age 20, she moved to a Christian Mohawk village in present-day Kahnawake, Quebec, located on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Montréal. She died there at age 24. Since her death, many miracles have been attributed to her, making her a beloved figure in the Catholic Church, notably for First Nations in both Canada and the United States. Her tomb is located at the St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kahnawake.

Kateri Tekakwitha was declared venerable by Pope Pius XII in 1943 and beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II. She will be made a saint by Pope Benedict XVI.

- 30 -

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874
Follow us on Twitter: @DFAIT_MAECI