By Stephanie Taylor
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA-The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is pledging to fundraise $30 million for projects to help residential school survivors heal from their trauma.
President Raymond Poisson says it was made clear at a gathering last week that Catholic entities need to do more to address the historical wrongs done to Indigenous people through residential schools and the suffering former students experienced.
Catholic leaders have been under pressure to properly compensate survivors under the Indian Residential School Survivor Agreement after it was reported less than $5 million had been raised out of a $25 million goal.
The commitment of $30 million in funding comes after the Canadian bishops group issued an apology last week for the abuses committed by those in the church
AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said in a statement “the financial commitment made by the Bishops of Canada today is welcomed, however, I must acknowledge that it is long overdue. Due to previous financial promises by the church not being met, I sure the Bishops will understand First Nations skepticism and mistrust about their commitments.The Assembly of First Nations is looking for a further assurances that these funds, each and every dollar, will go directly to the healing initiatives for the survivors and intergenerational survivors.
As National Chief, I will be reaching out to Bishops of Canada to ensure that First Nations are part of the development of the national principles and strategy, timelines, and the public communication as stated in their announcement. I appreciate that they understand the principle of “nothing about us, without us.”
We’re no longer accepting hollow apologies. Concrete actions and changed behaviour are essential as we walk the healing path forward.”
Indigenous leaders are set to meet with Pope Francis in December at the Vatican to ask that he come to Canada to deliver an apology to survivors as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
In a statement Tuesday, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it’s conflicted by the apology, but acknowledged it as a first step the Catholic Church needs to take to provide reparations to First Nations.
“I am hesitant, as I am sure many others would feel, to fully accept the apology of the bishops on behalf of my family,” Grand Chief Arlen Dumas said in a statement.
“Perhaps if the apology was made in person by the bishops to the former students, then it may be more meaningful and be more sincere.
As many others impacted by the legacy of (residential schools) would likely agree, I feel an in-person apology would help First Nations with achieving a lasting justice rather than a written statement delivered through the media.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2021.