Canadian bishops announce indigenous fund is accepting proposals


The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has announced the special fund to support healing and reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities has begun accepting proposals.

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund was established in 2022 to support and advance healing and reconciliation initiatives with Indigenous communities, following the Canadian bishops’ pledge to do so last year.

The announcement comes just days before Pope Francis begins a 5-day visit to Canada.

During the trip, he is expected to expand on an apology he delivered at the Vatican this past spring for residential school abuse in institutions run by his church.

This will fulfil Action Point number 58 of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission which called for the pope to apologise to survivors, their families and communities on Canadian soil.

“Unfortunately in Canada many Christians, including some members of religious orders, contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation that in the past gravely damaged native populations in various ways,” Francis said at his weekly address to people in St Peter’s Square.

For over a century, the residential school system in Canada attempted to assimilate Indigenous communities into Canadian society by forcibly removing children from their families.

The children were sent to schools where they were often punished for speaking their native languages. In addition, many of the children underwent physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

Roughly 150,000 children from the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples were forced to attend the government-funded residential schools.

The Catholic, Anglican and other churches operated the schools between the 1870s and 1996 when the last residential school was closed.

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund accepts donations from 73 Catholic dioceses throughout Canada with the aim of fulfilling the CCCB’s $30 million goal.

The bishops said all projects that are pitched are evaluated locally in consultation with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. The first proposal was approved on July 15.

According to the bishops, project proposals from diocesan and regional reconciliation committees are being presented to the fund “as part of an effort to support and encourage local collaboration between Catholic entities and Indigenous partners”.

Chief Wilton Littlechild, chair of the board, said in Monday’s statement that “The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund is a critically important effort in support of the path of healing and reconciliation between the Catholic Church and Indigenous Peoples.

“We are pleased with the progress made to date and are looking forward to distributing funds as quickly as possible in support of reconciliation projects across the country,” he said.


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