Residential School Tragedies

Indigenous Reconciliation Fund

In September of 2021 the Canadian Catholic Bishops announced a commitment to providing $30 Million in funding for Reconciliation and Healing initiatives led by First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons.  The Diocese of Hamilton has committed $4 Million to this Fund, which will be paid directly by the Diocese. In addition to the $4Million, the diocese recognizes that many parishioners also want to contribute to the fund and support Reconciliation and Healing in this way.  So this weekend (May 7/8) you will find envelopes in the pews marked Indigenous Reconciliation Fund.  If you would like to contribute we invite you to take one home and bring it back next week with your donation. Any cheques can be made out to St. Francis Parish as we will collect the money and send one cheque on to the diocese, as we do with other special collections. Read Bishop Crosby’s message and Frequently Asked Questions here. Thank you for being part of this important step towards building relationships, healing and reconciliation.


Indigenous Delegation to Rome

From March 28 to April 1, delegates from the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami will meet with Pope Francis to discuss Catholic involvement in residential schools in Canada as well as the lasting impact on Indigenous communities.

Salt + Light Media is honoured to be accompanying the delegates on this historic occasion in pursuit of truth, healing, reconciliation, and peace. We will be bringing you daily updates from Rome as well as live media briefings following each of the four meetings between Pope Francis and the delegates.

Tune in to Salt + Light TV each day, from March 28 to April 1, at 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT for a brief update on the day’s events. You can also visit our dedicated webpage: A Journey Toward Healing and Reconciliation to check out the events schedule, watch the videos, and much more.

We are also posting the live streams of the media briefings below.

Video begins at 32:45
March 31, 9am ET
Video begins at 10:20
April 1, 6am ET
April 1, 9:30 am ET

INDIGENOUS RECONCILIATION FUND

Bishop Crosby has written a letter to all parishioners in the Diocese of Hamilton to update us on the Canadian Catholic Church’s commitment to set up the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, and how our Diocese will participate. Click here to read the letter.


Canadian Bishops, Assembly of First Nations, Métis National Council, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Announce Rescheduled Dates for Rome Delegation

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

February 1, 2022 – The Canadian Catholic Bishops, Assembly of First Nations, Métis National Council, and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami are pleased to announce that the delegation to Rome to meet with Pope Francis, originally planned for December 2021, is now scheduled to take place at the end of March and early April of this year.

In light of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, both in Canada and throughout the world, a prudent decision was made in December to postpone the delegation out of concern for the safety of all delegates, recognizing the uncertainty regarding travel and the fluid nature of the situation.

Working closely with the Vatican, new dates have been confirmed. The Holy Father is now scheduled to meet with individual Indigenous delegations the week of March 28, 2022. A final audience with all participants will take place on Friday, April 1, 2022.

The health and safety of all delegates remain our first priority. In the weeks ahead, we will monitor conditions leading up to the revised travel dates and continue our dialogue with delegates, public health officials as well as the relevant government and international authorities, traveling only when we feel it is safe to do so.

We remain committed to walking toward healing and reconciliation and very much look forward to the opportunity for Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, and youth to meet with Pope Francis.

For further information:


Canada’s Bishops Announce Indigenous Reconciliation Fund to Support Projects Across Canada

Friday, January 28 2022

January 28, 2022 – Canada’s Catholic Bishops have agreed to establish a new registered charity to support and advance healing and reconciliation initiatives. The charity is expected to manage the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, which will accept contributions from 73 dioceses across Canada in order to fulfill the $30 million financial commitment made by Canada’s Bishops in September.

“The Bishops of Canada are fully committed to addressing the historical and ongoing trauma caused by the residential school system,” said Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). “In moving forward with our collective financial commitment, we will continue to be guided by the experience and wisdom of Indigenous peoples across the country”.

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund will be managed with financial measures in place to ensure transparency and good governance. Board directors and members of the corporation will collectively bring a strong financial acumen and deep commitment to the healing and reconciliation journey. The directors of the Board include:

  • Chief Wilton Littlechild, Ph.D, a Cree chief, residential school survivor, and lawyer who served as a Commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Chief Littlechild has been a Member of Parliament, Vice-President of the Indigenous Parliament of the Americas, North American Representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and a Chairperson for the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform.
  • Giselle Marion, who holds a law degree from the University of British Columbia and was called to the Bar in the Northwest Territories in 2008. During her articles Ms. Marion worked for the Department of Justice. She is a Tłı̨chǫ Citizen and was born and raised in Behchokǫ̀, NT. She is the Director of Client Services with the Tłı̨chǫ Government out of the Behchokǫ̀ office.
  • Rosella Kinoshameg, an Odawa/Ojibway woman from the Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation Territory.  She is a Registered Nurse with over 50 years of nursing experience, mostly working with First Nations communities doing community health, maternal child health, immunizations, home and community Care. She was one of the original members of the CCCB’s Indigenous Council and continues to serve as a member of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle.

The members of the corporation include:

  • Natale Galloa former Supreme Director of the Knights of Columbus, where he represented Canada on the International Board of Directors.   
  • Claude Bédard, National President of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Canada.
  • Barbara Dowding, former National President of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada.

The fund will publish annual reports and will be subject to an audit by an independent accounting firm each year. Any administrative costs will be on top of the $30 million being raised and will not be deducted from this principal amount.

While specific disbursement guidelines will be informed by additional input from Indigenous partners, we intend the funds to contribute to the following priorities:

  • Healing and reconciliation for communities and families;
  • Culture and language revitalization;
  • Education and community building; and
  • Dialogues for promoting indigenous spirituality and culture.

Regional and/or Diocesan Granting Committees will be established to identify projects that further the fund’s priorities, review applications and request funds to support such projects. These committees will include Indigenous and Catholic membership and it is our recommendation that they be chaired by local Indigenous partners

We recognize that there has been considerable disappointment with a previous Catholic fundraising campaign tied to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. While the CCCB was not party to the agreement, we have recognized the shortcomings of this campaign and learned critically important lessons to ensure that the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund is fully funded and well managed with appropriate oversight. Additional information on the “best efforts” campaign led by the Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential School Settlement can be found here: https://www.cccb.ca/indigenous-peoples/indian-residential-schools-and-trc/ .

The establishment of this national framework builds on existing fundraising from local Catholic entities including the Archdioceses of Winnipeg and St. Boniface, the Bishops of Saskatchewan, and the Archdiocese of Vancouver. The CCCB will continue to provide regular public updates on this work as part of the ongoing journey towards healing and reconciliation.


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 – communications@cccb.ca
Assembly of First Nations – jamiem@afn.ca
Métis National Council – jannav@metisnation.ca
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami – media@itk.ca


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 www.cccb.ca.


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.