Deacon Nahanee, a CCCB adviser on relations with Indigenous people, is representing Canada in Rome, along with Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon June 18-21. Photo courtesy of B.C. Catholic

Squamish First Nation deacon taking Indigenous issues to Rome

By  Agnieszka Krawczynski, Canadian Catholic News
  • March 27, 2018

VANCOUVER – A Squamish First Nation deacon is looking forward to his chance to bring the concerns of local Indigenous people to Rome.

Deacon Rennie Nahanee, the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s co-ordinator of First Nations ministry, is one of two people chosen to represent Canadian clergy at a conference in June.

“I got a call from Msgr. Frank Leo from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops,” said Nahanee. “He asked me if I’d like to go Rome and if I’d like to think about it. I said, ‘I don’t need to think about that, Monsignor.’”

Nahanee, a CCCB adviser on relations with Indigenous people, is representing Canada along with Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon June 18-21. The pair will give a report at the Anglophone Safeguarding Conference, which was created in 2004 as a response to sexual abuse by clergy in an effort to make Catholic parishes and schools safer.

Nahanee said it’s a great opportunity to also talk about reconciliation efforts and how to make Canadian First Nations communities feel protected.

“I could say, ‘Yes, we are protecting children in our Church,’ but then I believe it has to be the wider community. We’re not just protecting children that come to our church and go to our schools, but children all over the place. We have to play a big part in that.”

He noted that the Catholic Church took a role in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and has an opportunity to reach out at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry.

Nahanee looks forward to bringing these issues before priests and deacons at the conference in Rome, which will be hosted by the bishops conferences of Australia and Papua New Guinea-Solomon Islands, as well as the Centre for Child Protection at Gregorian University. He’s not sure he’ll meet Pope Francis, but he knows what he’ll tell him if he gets the chance.

“I’d certainly ask him about his thoughts on a visit to Canada. I would tell him why I think it’s important. His words could sway other Canadians to think about reconciliation. Us, by ourselves, in the Church, don’t move a lot of people. Someone like Pope Francis could.”

(The B.C. Catholic)

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