Author and educator Kevin Lamoureux says Canadians are up to challenge of being part of the healing process with Indigenous peoples. Photo courtesy Kevin Lamoureux

Call to Action ‘an exercise of love’

By 
  • April 9, 2022

At this pivotal moment in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples, author and educator Kevin Lamoureux is encouraging those in the Church working to move beyond feelings of guilt to be part of the solution.

Faculty member at the University of Winnipeg and lead for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Lamoureux spoke to employees of the Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) as part of their Adult Faith Formation virtual series. Highlighting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action as the pathway for healing, Lamoureux urged staff to embrace call number 59 addressed to Church parties involved in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The call is to ensure that followers and congregations know about the Church’s involvement in residential schools so the issue is made transparent and policies carried out in the name of reconciliation are done with full understanding.

“I think that for many people, especially people who are part of faith organizations, when they encounter this topic of reconciliation, it can get overwhelming very quickly,” said Lamoureux. “If we sometimes feel like we’re made to feel guilty, people can respond in many different ways, including self-defence and rejecting what’s being heard. I actually think that Call to Action 59 is an exercise of love for one another. It’s an invitation for us to be a part of something beautiful. To be a part of something healing. One thing I know about Dufferin Peel is that it is filled with people who are up to the challenge.”

With a focus on grace and compassion, Lamoureux lamented the Catholic Church’s shortcomings when it comes to accountability while celebrating and encouraging well-meaning Catholics determined to do the right thing.

Born to an Ojibwe father and Ukrainian mother, Lamoreux was raised Catholic and found refuge in the Church at a pivotal moment in his adolescence. After running afoul with a local Winnipeg street gang, he was left fearful for his life. It was in that moment that he returned to the Church looking for comfort, hope and a safe haven. That part of his personal history has led him to be enthusiastic about the opportunity for healing between the Indigenous people in Canada and the Catholic Church through conversations that will continue beyond the Indigenous delegations’ visit to the Vatican.

“I’m very proud of that because that relationship with the Catholic Church came from my own motivation, from my own heart,” said Lamoureux. “It wasn’t just something I was born into, it was something I found in a time of need, and I’m very grateful for that. That history has lent itself to me being very interested and excited about the opportunity for Indigenous people here in Canada to connect with Pope Francis to renew conversations that haven’t been happening for the last little while that we would want to continue.”

Lamoureux’s most recent book, Ensouling Our Schools with Dr. Jennifer Katz, is being used by educators across Canada working to create inclusive spaces for all students. While continuing to hold the Church accountable, Lamoureux hopes to encourage Catholics to be advocates and conduits for healing. Though looking at the truth is painful he says, Canadians who are not allowing that discomfort to halt the conversations are doing a great service to the nation individually and collectively.

“The courage and the strength and the goodwill of people I think is outpacing governments and other leaders,” said Lamoureux. “I think that we’re capable of so much in Canada. I think that we are capable of moving quicker than cynicism, bureaucracy and court systems. Canadians are ready to have these conversations.”

As part of the Adult Faith Formation series the board organizing committee led by superintendent Judi Kuran says the session on reconciliation was an essential  part of the monthly series. Focusing on the theme of “Rest, Renew and Rejoice in the Lord,” the sessions are open to all employees of the DPCDSB and focus on individual wellness as part of the collective health of the school community. Kuran says her prayer coming out of Lamoureux’s session is that everyone in the school district would do their part in educating themselves for healing to begin.

“We know that part of renewing is facing the uncomfortable truth,” said Kuran. “Both within our own lives and the mistakes that we’ve made, when we go to confession or participate in the act of reconciliation, you have to lean into that uncomfortableness. It’s only through them that we can gain that spirit of reconciliation. Our committee felt it was extremely important from the very beginning that we think not only within ourselves but of where we live (as Canadians). It was important to have an Indigenous reconciliation component to this so that we can continue to move forward.”

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