Commemorating the 5th Anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report

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Commemorating the 5th Anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report

Five years ago this month, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) published its six-volume Final Report, with its 94 Calls to Action. The “Final Report” includes the Calls to Action that address educational institutions and the churches that were administrators of residential schools, including the Catholic Church.

The TRC Final Report was an invitation to our nation and to our churches to open our eyes to the suffering experienced by Indigenous people as a result of colonization and efforts to force their assimilation, most notably through the residential school system. The Final Report did not give up on the churches, but rather, summoned us to conversion. Being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ today requires that we own past sins and mistakes, and learn how to walk in solidarity with Indigenous people in building a different and better future together.

The Archdiocese of Regina, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous members of our faith community, has established an Archdiocesan Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (ACTR) to continue the work of reconciliation in our local setting. The ACTR is a gathering of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. One of its primary goals is to strengthen relations and discern what initiatives the Archdiocese can take in responding to the TRC Calls to Action. As we looked at the TRC’s Calls to Action and listened to one another, we came to identify the need to work in several areas: support of and engagement with Indigenous spirituality, culture, and language; education about Indigenous Peoples’ history on this land, the impact of colonization, the legacy of Indian Residential Schools, and Treaties; dialogue and relationship building; and working together towards justice for and with Indigenous Peoples. We are learning that all engagement with the Calls to Action and all efforts to respond to the pastoral needs of Indigenous people need to flow from relationship. This includes survivors of residential schools and all who have been affected by legacy of colonialism. This affects us all. ‘Nothing about us, without us’ is how we are striving to journey forward.

The ACTR has identified four circles of activity and engagement wherein we strive to strengthen relations and respond to the TRC Calls to Action:

1) In schools and academic institutions. The Regina Catholic School District (RCSD) is one of the partners of the ACTR. They are committed to answering the Calls to Action for education by sharing the truth about colonization and the history and impact of residential schools on Indigenous people in order to build the students’ and staff’s capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect. RCSD is working with students and staff to increase understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing and being by authentically engaging Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers as teachers in our spaces.

2) In parishes. We have opened our doors to deeper engagement with Elders and survivors of residential schools, by listening to their stories and personal experiences. The Archdiocese is soon to embark on an educational initiative entitled “4 Seasons of Reconciliation”. This is a series of multi-media teaching units developed in partnership with First Nations University of Canada to promote a renewed relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Non-Indigenous Canadians through transformative learning.

3) Formation for those in church leadership. In addition to clergy study days on the TRC and its legacy, our most considerable undertaking was a 3-week formation focused on Indigenous relations and ministry for seminarians and Archdiocesan staff, with several Indigenous Elders and leaders offering presentations and facilitating educational and cultural experiences.

4) In the pursuit of justice for Indigenous Peoples. The ACTR has joined ecumenical gatherings of church representatives with Indigenous Elders and Knowledge Keepers and participated in the Reconciliation Regina Action Plan.

We are seeing the first signs of a new way of walking together, enriched by the insights and gifts of Indigenous ways. In our engagement with each other, we are experiencing the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and are finding joy in working together at the service of a society where justice and peace flourish. In commemorating the 5th anniversary of the TRC Final Report, we extend our warm greetings to all Indigenous Peoples of this region and look forward to continuing and strengthening our walk together.

 

ACTR Members in alphabetical order

  1. Jason Agecoutay – Little Black Bear First Nation
  2. Delphine Agecoutay – Okanese First Nation
  3. Denise Anaquod – Educator RCSD, Cowessess First Nation
  4. Susan Beaudin – Indigenous writer and educator, Cowessess First Nation
  5. Robert Bellegarde – Elder, Little Black Bear First Nation
  6. Jeramie Bellegarde – Little Black Bear First Nation
  7. Archbishop Donald Bolen – Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Regina
  8. Kelly Bourke – Director of Campus Ministry, Campion College
  9. Charlie Cavanaugh – Marian Centre, Madonna House Apostolate
  10. Judy Corkery – Regina, Sk.
  11. May Desnomie – Elder RCSD, Peepeekisis First Nation
  12. Fr. Tonny Dizy – Aboriginal Non Aboriginal Relations Community (ANARC)
  13. Sr. Bernadette Feist – Native Valley Ministry
  14. Trevor Herriot – Regina, Sk.
  15. Deanna Lerat – Cowessess First Nation
  16. Sr. ReAnne Letourneau – Facilitator for Indigenous Relations
  17. Tracy McKenzie – Aboriginal Health Coordinator for the Aboriginal Health Home Care team with the SHA; Cowessess First Nation
  18. Lillian Piapot – Elder, Piapot First Nation
  19. Lisa Polk – Director of Pastoral Services for the Archdiocese of Regina
  20. Ruth Robillard – Educator
  21. Domenic Scuglia – Director of Education, RCSD
  22. Tashia Toupin – Social Justice Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Regina
  23. Jeannine Whitehouse – Indigenous Education Coordinator RCSD, Métis Nation
  24. Fr. John Weckend – Regina, Sk.

 

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