A coalition of Catholic organizations have formed a Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle to further reconciliation efforts with Canada's indigenous people. Photo courtesy of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle formed to further reconciliation

  • January 3, 2017

OTTAWA – A coalition of seven Catholic organizations have launched the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle to further reconciliation efforts with Canada’s indigenous peoples.

“I’m looking forward to a Happy New Year in 2017 for indigenous people and the Catholic Church,” said Deacon Rennie Nahanee, chair of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council (CCAC) and one of five indigenous members of the Circle.

“It shows we are taking seriously the response to the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) Calls to Action,” added Nahanee, a member of the Squamish First Nation in British Columbia and coordinator of First Nations’ Ministry for the Vancouver archdiocese. “We want to have a good relationship with indigenous people like we used to prior to the residential schools.”

Besides the CCAC, the circle is made of representatives from the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC), the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace/ Caritas Canada (CCODP), the Knights of Columbus, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Catholic Women’s League, and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). They met to formally inaugurate the circle at the CCCB offices in Ottawa Dec. 5

“It’s mutual respect we need to have for each other, and the Church is changing,” Nahanee said. “They want to listen to what the indigenous peoples are saying. Indigenous people need to understand how the Church operates and works and has been doing for a long time.

“It’s just now we’re on an equal basis. No more residential school telling you what you should do, but what we can do together.”

The circle will be meeting early in the new year to further define each person’s role and mandate.

The circle will examine how reconciliation is “lived out and how it connects to our mission for social justice, peace, and the rights of all to this national reconciliation process that the Catholic Church and the Catholic movements are engaged in.”

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