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Indigenous Relations

The Indigenous Relations Council provides the Archbishop with a link to the large Indigenous community in the Archdiocese.

Its members include a representative of the Archbishop; clergy serving the parishes of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows in Maskwacis, Our Lady of Mercy in Enoch, and Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples in Edmonton; and community members.

Among the events that are promoted with the communities are the feast days of St. Kateri Tekakwitha and Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the annual Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage.

Education and creating awareness about traditional teachings are also part of this ministry.

Truth & Reconciliation Commission

Four days of special events and ceremonies were capped in Ottawa on June 2, 2015, with the release of the Summary Report by Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The commission has examined in detail the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada and issued 94 "Calls to Action" aimed at healing and nurturing the relationship between indigenous peoples and other Canadians. Full details of the Commission's work can be found at

The schools were funded by the federal government and operated in most cases by churches or religious communities. The Corporation of Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement (CEPIRSS) represents 17 dioceses and 37 religious institutes involved in managing and helping to operate the schools on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Here are some responses of Catholic leaders to the TRC Summary Report:

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has issued an initial response to the summary report and Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Permanent Council calls the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission "another important step in providing further opportunity for deeper encounter, greater understanding and renewed hope" for the First Nations, Inuit and Metis, as well as for all Canadians. The CCCB Council confirms that the Calls to Action recommended to Churches by the TRC will be on the agenda of the next Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Canada, set for September 14-18. "We are committed to ensuring that the Calls to Action will be given careful hearing and full discussion," the statement says. "We are confident they will be carefully considered, and in this process we know we can count on the collaboration of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council."

Link to the full text of the statement

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, President of the CEPIRSS

"I want to express our appreciation to the Commissioners who have worked tirelessly to lead us all in a very searching examination of conscience in regard to a painful period in our history. The Commission has now presented all Canadians with Calls to Action. ... On behalf of Catholic entities, I receive these challenges and encourage others in our community to do so as well. In the next few months, I will be presenting these Calls to Action to all of the Bishops of Canada and to the Canadian Religious Conference as direction posts and milestones on the way to a reconciled future..."

Link to the statement by Archbishop Pettipas (PDF)

Joint Church Statement

A joint statement was also issued on behalf of The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Roman Catholic Entities Parties to the Settlement Agreement, The United Church of Canada, and the Jesuits of English Canada. "We are grateful to the survivors, whose courageous witness has touched the heart of the life of our churches. There have been apologies from our churches, yet we know that our apologies are not enough. And so we are grateful as well to the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for their findings and for their clarity about our continuing responsibilities...."

Link to the joint statement

Rev. Ken Forster OMI, Former Provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Lacombe Province

Father Ken preached on reconcilation during his homily on Trinity Sunday. "...These evil acts of ours, whether done intentionally or unintentionally, as well as sins of omission, failing to do the good, need the healing forgiveness of the Creator and the forgiveness of First Nations. Today we pray that we non-aboriginals own the truth of the injury caused by ourselves and by the unjust system of a dominant colonial society that continues today. Let us own our sin and repent! ..."

Link to Father Ken's homily

Earlier Public Statements at TRC event in Edmonton, March 2014

Alberta Bishops TRC Statement Gesture of Reconciliation – delivered by Archbishop Smith

Oblates of Lacombe Province TRC Statement Gesture of Reconciliation – delivered by Rev. Ken Forster OMI, Provincial

Canadian Council of Churches TRC Statement – delivered by Lt. Col. Jim Champ, CCC President, CCCB among signers of Statement)

Information sheet on Indian Residential Schools in Alberta