The grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. CNS photo/Jennifer Gauthier, Reuters

Saskatchewan bishops plan fundraising for residential school survivors

By 
  • July 5, 2021

The Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan have begun the process for a new fundraising campaign to support survivors of residential schools.

In a letter to the faithful July 3, the five Saskatchewan bishops — Regina’s Archbishop Donald Bolen, Saskatoon’s Bishop Mark Hagemoen, Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin Le Pas, Prince Albert Bishop Stephen Hero and Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Eparchy of Saskatoon — said they “have been awakened anew to the waves of suffering” of survivors with the finding’s at cemeteries of former residential schools. A number of unmarked graves have been discovered at sites in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, with many more such discoveries expected.

“We have heard the strong request, from Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in various quarters, to initiate a new fundraising campaign to support survivors and engage more deeply in our own ongoing commitment and response to the Truth and Reconciliation process,” the bishops wrote.

The fundraising effort follows a Catholic commitment from 2008-13 to raise $25 million to fund reconciliation efforts. That campaign fell woefully short, managing to only raise just under $4 million.

“Many members of our Catholic community have expressed their solidarity and support for the ongoing work of healing for survivors and their families, which could take the shape of supporting local projects of the National Indian Brotherhood and responding locally to TRC Calls to Action involving a financial commitment, as guided by Indigenous communities here in Saskatchewan,” the bishops wrote.

Consultations on a province-wide fundraising effort began in the days prior to the letter’s release, including dialogue with Indigenous partners: survivors, elders, knowledge keepers and chiefs.

“We hope to be able to announce a plan soon,” the bishops wrote.

More to come

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