Residential School Tragedies

Canadian Bishops, Assembly of First Nations, Métis National Council, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Provide an Update on Delegation to Rome

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

December 7, 2021 – After careful assessment of the uncertainty and potential health risks surrounding international travel amid the recent spread of the Omicron variant, the Canadian Bishops, Assembly of First Nations, Métis National Council, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami have jointly decided to reschedule a delegation to the Vatican in December 2021 to the earliest opportunity in 2022.

The decision to postpone was a heartbreaking one, made after careful consultation with delegates, family members, community leaders, public health officials and the leadership of each of the three National Indigenous Organizations. Particularly for many elderly delegates as well as those who live in remote communities, the risk of infection and the fluid nature of the evolving global situation presents too great a threat at this time.

We take comfort in the desire, conveyed to us by the Holy See, that the safety of the delegation should inform any decision to move forward. It is also important to note that the delegation is postponed not cancelled.

Currently, the world’s health experts are still learning about the transmissibility of the Omicron variant. As more information becomes available, we will continue to assess the feasibility of future travel plans, based on guidance from the Canadian government and relevant international authorities.

Our shared commitment to walking together towards healing and reconciliation remains strong. We understand that the Holy See is very much committed to rescheduling this visit in the new year and we look forward to the opportunity for Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, and youth to participate in private meetings with Pope Francis.

For further information:

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops –
Assembly of First Nations –
Métis National Council –
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami –

Statement, Apology and Financial Pledge from the Canadian Catholic Bishops – September 2021

See below for Apology & Financial Pledge.

Statement from the Canadian Catholic Bishops on Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples of Canada

The Catholic Bishops of Canada, gathered in Plenary this week, took the opportunity to affirm and acknowledge to the Indigenous Peoples the suffering experienced in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. Many Catholic religious communities and dioceses participated in this system, which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples. They acknowledged the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual. They also sorrowfully acknowledged the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day. Along with those Catholic entities which were directly involved in the operation of the schools and which have already offered their own heartfelt apologies, the Catholic Bishops of Canada expressed their profound remorse and apologized unequivocally.

Together with the many pastoral initiatives already underway in dioceses across the country, the Bishops pledged to undertake fundraising in each region of the country to support initiatives discerned locally with Indigenous partners. Furthermore, they invited the Indigenous Peoples to journey with us into a new era of reconciliation, helping us to prioritize initiatives of healing, to listen to the experience of Indigenous Peoples, especially to the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, and to educate our clergy, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful, on Indigenous cultures and spirituality. They further committed to continue the work of providing documentation or records that will assist in the memorialization of those buried in unmarked graves.

A delegation of Indigenous survivors, Elders/knowledge keepers, and youth will meet with the Holy Father in December 2021. Pope Francis will encounter and listen to the Indigenous Peoples, so as to discern how he can support our common desire to renew relationships and walk together along the path of hope in the coming years. The Bishops of Canada have pledged to work with the Holy See and our Indigenous partners on the possibility of a pastoral visit by the Pope to Canada as part of this healing journey.

We are committed to continue the journey with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples of this land. For more information, please contact the diocese or visit

Novena for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30th has been designated as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a solemn day to remember those affected by the residential school system and to pray for healing and reconciliation for us all.  On Sept. 30 our 9:00am Mass will be offered for the intentions of Truth and Reconciliation, and from Sept. 22 to 30 we invite everyone in the parish to pray a Novena to the Martyrs for those hurt by residential schools.  Click here to access the Novena. Thank you for adding your prayers to ours for our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

As with all Canadians we continue to follow the tragic discoveries at the former residential schools and we are keeping all those affected in prayer.

If you have visited St. Francis of Assisi Parish in the last weeks you will have seen these vests in the sanctuary. We want to make sure everyone understands what they represent.

Bishop Crosby has written a Pastoral Letter to all members of the Diocese of Hamilton concerning this tragedy and steps the Diocese and other Catholic organizations are taking towards reconciliation. Click the picture below to read the Bishop’s letter, To Inform, To Encourage, To Heal.

Please see the statements below from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and from the Oblate of Mary Immaculate.

Bishop Crosby’s Heart to Heart

Each week Bishop Crosby publishes a newsletter to all parishioners in the Diocese of Hamilton.  The Bishop continues to focus on Indigenous Peoples and Reconciliation, so we will continue to feature several sections of these newsletters here:

THE SPIRIT GARDEN TO BE INSTALLED AT NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE in Toronto is another step closer to realization. Tenders for the project went out last week. The plan is to have shovels in the ground in September, with completion expected by September 2023! The multi-faith partners of the Restorative Relations Working Group (RRWG) meet regularly with Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre who are overseeing the project. They ask the faith communities for prayers for the success of the project!

THE CALL FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO “APOLOGIZE” for our involvement in government sponsored Indigenous Residential Schools is loud and clear. The apologies actually began 30 years ago, when the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate offered an apology at the annual Lac Ste. Anne (Alberta) pilgrimage – a long-time sacred pilgrimage site for thousands of Indigenous Peoples from North America. The Oblates were marking their 150th anniversary of presence and ministry in Canada, and chose to make the apology an important part of the anniversary year. You can read the apology here.

AND JUST YESTERDAY the CCCB announced a long-in-the planning initiative to send a delegation of Indigenous Elders, Knowledge Keepers, residential school survivors, and young people to meet with Pope Francis in a “meaningful encounter of dialogue and healing”. The event will be a rich conversation between a diverse group of Indigenous peoples and the Pope. The pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions stalled the project; however as these restrictions ease, the delegation has resumed its planning for the visit. Read the statement here.