A teepee stands in the graveyard in the Cowessess First Nation near Grayson, Sask. CNS photo/Shannon VanRaes, Reuters

Fundraising on hold as national strategy worked out

  • October 28, 2021

Regional efforts to raise $30 million on behalf of Indigenous healing and reconciliation projects appear to be on hold while the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops hammers out a national framework for regional and diocesan campaigns.

“The bishops have tasked themselves to finalize the national principles, strategy, timeline and public communications around this campaign in November,” said CCCB spokesperson Lisa Gall.

Once launched, all fundraising will be undertaken at the local level, either by individual dioceses or regional groups of dioceses, Gall said.

In Atlantic Canada the bishops have discussed fundraising, “but at this point no decisions have been made,” said Halifax-Yarmouth archdiocese spokesperson Aurea Sadi.

In Quebec there’s no planning underway, said Assembly of Quebec Bishops spokesperson Simon Lebrecque. But Lebreque expects this to change.

“This national initiative is supported 100 per cent by the bishops from Quebec,” he said. “Since it is a pan-Canadian initiative, a national co-ordination by the CCCB is necessary to make sure that it is successful.”

The Church and Society Council of Quebec’s Assembly of Catholic Bishops has been talking about issues of reconciliation for the past two years, “way before Kamloops and Marieval,” said Frédéric Barriault, a researcher with Montreal’s Justice and Faith Centre who works with the bishops on the council.

“I think a lot of Catholic organizations here (in Quebec) felt ‘handcuffed’ by the Canadian bishops refusal to ‘deliver’ the long awaited apologies to the Indigenous peoples, that most saw as the first real step forward,” Bariault wrote in an e-mail.

“Since reconciliation and relations with the Indigenous peoples are a national issue, it had to be tackled by the CCCB first.”

Barriault believes Quebec Catholics are willing to play their part in any campaign and believes it will come up in the diocesan synodal process.

Ontario bishops have been in talks about a regional fundraising effort since the summer, but Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario president Bishop Ron Fabbro was unable to answer questions from The Catholic Register before press time because of a death in his family.

The Archdiocese of Toronto has a fundraising appeal posted to its website (archtoronto.org). Any announcement about fundraising events or interim totals will have to wait until the regional fundraising plan comes together, spokesperson Neil MacCarthy told The Catholic Register in August.

“Some people have taken the opportunity to donate right away,” MacCarthy said. “We are also working on the framework to the campaign and understandably, many Catholics would like to see a more detailed plan before making a commitment.”

Calls to the Saskatchewan bishops, who announced their own province-wide fundraising campaign July 13 went unanswered. The Saskatchewan campaign has a web page on the Diocese of Saskatoon Catholic Foundation site (dscf.ca).

And in Edmonton, the archdiocese said the results of its efforts will take some time to determine.

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