Catholic groups welcome start of Truth and Reconciliation process

  • June 16, 2010
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of CanadaOTTAWA - A group representing Catholic religious orders and dioceses involved in the Indian residential schools' system hope some of the positive and bright threads in an otherwise bleak tapestry will get a chance to be told as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission launched its first national event in Winnipeg June 16-19.

Catholic groups involved in running residential schools say they look forward to participating in the commission’s seven national events.

Grouard-McLennan Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, who chairs the Corporation of Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement, announced June 15 he would be attending all four days of the commission’s Winnipeg event, with board members and members of Catholic religious orders that ran schools joining him.

In a statement, Pettipas said the corporation “is committed to supporting the work of the commission and applauds the launch of the national events as part of an inclusive process to collect the stories of all people who were involved in Canada’s (Indian residential schools') system.”

“We expect many of these stories will deal with difficult issues from this dark chapter in our country’s history,” the archbishop said. “However, we believe former students and staff may also have more positive accounts to relate.

“These national events are crucial milestones on the road to healing and reconciliation for Canada’s aboriginal people and all Canadians, and we are confident the commission will make every effort to ensure that all perspectives will be heard.”

Created in 2006, the corporation represents 54 Catholic dioceses and religious congregations who fall under the residential schools' settlement agreement. “We are holding the national event to listen to survivors and all those affected by residential schools,” said Justice Murray Sinclair, commission chair, in a statement.  “However, we want to reach out to the larger community as well, to provide opportunities for healing and greater awareness.

“By sharing these experiences will we truly understand them, and in the process, help future generations move forward with respect,” he said. The Winnipeg event offers an option of making a private, confidential statement. Others may opt to have their history recorded on video or audio.  Support services will be available for anyone who re-experiences the trauma of their time in the schools.

The official program began June 16 with the Lighting of the Sacred Fire and Pipe Ceremony.

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