Pope Francis arrives with Indigenous leaders for a meeting with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities at Maskwacis, Alberta, July 25, 2022. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Indigenous reconciliation fund hits first target

  • March 29, 2023

The $30 million Indigenous Reconciliation Fund has achieved its first-year goal of raising $9.4 million and the fund’s board has greenlit 17 projects.

The Canadian bishops’ 2021 pledge to raise $30 million over five years has been parsed out over the five years with $9.4 million pledged in year one, $5 million in year two, $4.9 million in each of years three and four and finally $9.2 million in year five. If all pledges are met, the bishops would exceed their goal by $3.4 million.

“Year two, there’s $5 million pledged and we’re on our way to that target, apparently,” IRF board chair Rosella Kinoshameg told The Catholic Register.

The Archdiocese of Toronto has so far raised just under $1 million of the $6 million it has pledged to the fund. The money comes from annual fall collections, but any shortfall in fundraising will be covered by archdiocesan assets and budgets. 

Toronto’s Indigenous-led Healing and Reconciliation Fund has been meeting regularly and expects to announce next month specific proposals it will be sending to the national committee headed by Kinoshameg. The projects Toronto’s committee are championing are both within and outside the archdiocese.

Kinoshameg and her all-Indigenous board meet monthly to review proposals for funding that are passed up from diocesan committees to the national board. No project is approved until the national board makes its decision.

Kinoshameg foresees that the projects and their funding will be posted to the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund’s website (irfund.ca) in the next couple of months. 

The 17 approved projects fall into four broad areas of service to Indigenous communities — language and cultural revitalization, healing and reconciliation for communities and families, community building and education, and dialogues to promote Indigenous spirituality and culture.

Geographically, the projects approved so far tilt heavily toward the West coast with the Archdiocese of Vancouver having five projects approved and Victoria adding four more. The only other diocese with more than one approved project is Sault Ste. Marie, which covers the Soo, Sudbury, North Bay and communities surrounding those three northern Ontario cities.

Kinoshameg is pleased by the strong showing of culture and language revitalization programs that have come to the board for approval. A Metis project for Michif Language revitalization in Victoria shows the breadth of efforts to keep dozens of Indigenous languages alive.

“I have lots of hope,” Kinoshameg said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

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