Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Pope Francis to visit Canada to apologise to indigenous peoples for the Catholic Church's treatment of aboriginal children in schools it ran there.

Starting in the late 19th century about 30 per cent of children of Canada's native peoples, or about 150,000 children, were placed in what were known as "residential schools" in a government attempt to strip them of their traditional cultures and ancestral languages.

For more than a century the schools were government-funded but many were administered by Christian Churches, the majority by Catholics.

"I told him how important it is for Canadians to move forward on real reconciliation with the indigenous peoples and I highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology," Trudeau told reporters after meeting the Pope yesterday.

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He said he had invited the Argentine-born pontiff to make the apology in Canada.

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a 2015 report that the practice, which kept children from the First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples far from their parents, amounted to "cultural genocide".

Many children were physically and sexually abused.

The commission made 94 recommendations, including that the Pope issue a formal apology in Canada to survivors and their descendants for the Church's "role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse" of the children.

Trudeau said the Pope "reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalised people in the world, fighting for them, and that he looks forward to working with me and with the Canadian bishops to figure out a path forward together".

- Reuters