Indigenous Reconciliation Fund

Reconciliation is necessary when something has gone wrong. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) told us what went wrong:

“For over a century, the central goals of Canada’s Aboriginal policy were to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and, through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious, and racial entities in Canada. The establishment and operation of the residential schools were a central element of this policy, which can best be described as “cultural genocide.”[1]

[1] Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (Ottawa: TRC, 2015) [TRC, Honouring the Truth], at page 1.

On July 25, 2022 Pope Francis apologized at the site of a former residential school (Ermineskin Indian Residential School) in Maskwacis, Alberta for the role of the Catholic Church in the abuse and lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture and spiritual values in the residential school system.

Praying for forgiveness and God’s guidance, Pope Francis said:

“I recall the meetings we had in Rome four months ago. At that time, I was given two pairs of moccasins as a sign of the suffering endured by Indigenous children, particularly those who, unfortunately, never came back from the residential schools. I was asked to return the moccasins when I came to Canada, and I will do so at the end of these few words, in which I would like to reflect on this symbol, which over the past few months has kept alive my sense of sorrow, indignation and shame.

The memory of those children is indeed painful; it urges us to work to ensure that every child is treated with love, honor and respect. At the same time, those moccasins also speak to us of a path to follow, a journey that we desire to make together. We want to walk together, to pray together and to work together, so that the sufferings of the past can lead to a future of justice, healing and reconciliation.”

The Holy Father added: “Our own efforts are not enough to achieve healing and reconciliation: we need God’s grace. We need the quiet and powerful wisdom of the Spirit, the tender love of the Comforter. May he bring to fulfillment the deepest expectations of our hearts. May he guide our steps and enable us to advance together on our journey.”

In establishing the $3.2 million reconciliation fund and convening the Discernment Circle to help frame our efforts, the Archdiocese of Edmonton in partnership with First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples from across Treaty Six will support Indigenous-led healing and reconciliation initiatives to guide our next steps, together.

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) is a registered charity established in 2022 that accepts contributions from 73 Catholic entities across Canada, one of which is the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

The fund will advance local healing and reconciliation initiatives, fulfilling our commitment of $3.2 million over five years (which is part of the $30 million pledged by Canada’s Bishops).

The fund seeks to support projects that are determined locally, in collaboration with First Nations, Métis and Inuit partners. The IRF has established the following criteria for grant applications:

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

The fund has been designed to meet the highest standards of transparency and good governance and is overseen by a Board of Directors made up of Indigenous leaders.

The national IRF has raised over $9 million, putting the fund on schedule to exceed its five-year $30 million commitment.

Local Catholic dioceses identify the priority of meaningful reconciliation work as determined by local Indigenous groups and organizations. To that end, local project leads seeking funding would apply directly through the Archdiocese of Edmonton below.

Make a Donation

Discernment Circle

An Indigenous Reconciliation Discernment Circle will identify projects within the area of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, review and approve applications and ensure transparency and good governance.


“History cannot be erased, but together we can look forward to – and help create – a better future,” said Cam Alexis, chair of the Indigenous Reconciliation Discernment Circle and a member of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.

“I think the spirituality and culture is very important because that is part of the Church’s reconciliation as well. It is to recognize that as a holistic way of healing. Even the Pope visited us last summer, and all of this is the concept of healing and coming back to the Church as well for prayer.”

The Indigenous Reconciliation Discernment Circle is Indigenous-led, with representation from First Nations, Metis and Inuit partners. The Indigenous Reconciliation Circle in the Archdiocese of Edmonton is also supported by an Elder, former Samson Cree Nation Chief Victor Buffalo, and two Indigenous advisors Allen Benson and Shani Gwin.

Indigenous Reconciliation Discernment Circle Members

Cam Alexis, Chair

Cameron AlexisCam Alexis is former chief of the Alexis Nakota Nation and an experienced consultant with a wealth of experience in indigenous politics and business. He has a demonstrated history of working in government administration, policing, politics and industry.

Mr. Alexis is skilled in negotiations, crisis management and working with non-profit organizations. He graduated from the RCMP Academy Depot Division in Regina and St. Francis Xavier Catholic High School in Edmonton.

✠ Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Archbishop Richard Smith was formally installed as seventh Archbishop of Edmonton in 2007.

Archbishop Smith serves as President of the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, and is past president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2011-2013. He has also been a member and chairman of the Episcopal Commission from Christian Education, spiritual adviser to the Catholic Women’s League of Canada.

Archbishop Smith served as General Co-ordinator of Pope Francis’ historic visit to Canada, July 24 – 29, 2022. The Holy Father’s pilgrimage focused on Indigenous healing and reconciliation while also providing the shepherd of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics an opportunity to encounter the faithful in Canada.

Kayli Avvedutti

Kayli Avveduti is a First Nations, nēhiyaw iskwew/Cree woman from the Alexander First Nation in Treaty Six territory. She is the Executive Director of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations. At 29, Director Avveduti is the youngest person to have served in this role.

Prior to her work with Confederacy, Director Avveduti served the Martin Family Initiative in several capacities in the Early Years Program. She also supported the Alexander First Nation as an advisor to Chief and Council, providing analysis and response to government legislation and emerging challenges.

Director Avveduti completed her Master of Public Policy degree at McGill University and also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. She lives in Edmonton with her partner Gerald, her son Rocco, and their dog Lola.

Jessica Buffalo

Jessica Buffalo is Indigenous Initiatives Counsel for the Law Society of Alberta. Ms. Buffalo is a member of the Samson Cree Nation and grew up in Edmonton and Nanaimo, B.C. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia in 2016. She was called to the Alberta bar in 2017.

Most recently, Ms. Buffalo held the role of staff lawyer/duty counsel at Legal Aid Alberta. In this role she acted as dedicated duty counsel for the Calgary Indigenous Court and the Tsuut’ina Provincial Court.

Ms. Buffalo also appeared regularly as duty counsel in youth justice court, domestic court, bail hearings and in circuit court. She was an active member of the Reconciliation and Access to Justice Circle. She was involved in the Indigenous Action Plan and she helped to develop internal cultural competency training for Legal Aid Alberta staff.

Ms. Buffalo has also been involved in developing and delivering education to the legal profession and the judiciary in Alberta on topics relating to cultural competency, the Calgary Indigenous Court, Gladue Report writing, restorative justice, and access to justice. She has delivered “Know Your Rights” presentations in Indigenous communities across the province, and she has conducted free legal clinics through the Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

Dan Cardinal

Dan CardinalDan Cardinal has been proudly serving the Métis Nation of Alberta for more than six years. He started in 2014 as the MNA Region One vice-president. He was then successful in his campaign for MNA provincial vice-president in 2018.

Vice-President Cardinal is passionate about preserving Indigenous languages including both Cree and Michif, the language of his people. He has taught Cree in the Edmonton Catholic School Division, owned his own business, and served as a practical nurse.

As MNA vice-president, Mr. Cardinal sits on many boards all relating to language, tradition, and culture preservation. He currently sits on the board of Métis Crossing Experience Company.

Vice-President Cardinal’s main priority is advancing the Métis Nation through promoting education and Métis culture for future generations.

Leila Houle

Leila HouleLeila Houle is a member of Whitefish (Goodfish Lake) Lake #128 First Nation located within Treaty Six Territory.

Raised on her First Nation, Ms. Houle is committed to working towards healing and reconciliation.

Currently, Ms. Houle is a Senior Advisor for First Nations Relations with the Government of Alberta.


Maina Manniapik

Maina Manniapik is Inuk and originally from Pangnirtung, Nunavut Territory. She attended high school in Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay).  Elder Manniapik’s first job was as medical interpreter at the Baffin Regional Hospital.  She has also served as assistant secretary manager for the Hamlet of Pangnirtung and simultaneously an interpreter and translator for the Northwest Territories Legislature.

Elder Manniapik has been the coordinator on Land Quantum and Land Identification for the South Baffin Communities and represented the Communities team in federal negotiations on land quantum and identification.

Elder Manniapik has been a part-time host for the Inuktitut news called Igalaaq on CBC North. After a full career, Elder Manniapik now calls herself retired.  She is a member of Pathway Committee for the indigenous applicants for the gynecology/obstetrics program at the University of Alberta.  As well, Elder Manniapik has served with the Norquest College indigenous programs, as well in an advisory capacity.

Elder Manniapik is a gifted artist and is proud of her two daughters and beautiful four-year-old granddaughter.

Harold Robinson

Admitted to the Law Society of Alberta and certified as a mediator, Mr. Robinson has applied his legal and mediation/arbitration skills across a range of interests. This includes intergovernmental work with Aboriginal Relations, governance and business development and oversight with the Metis Settlements of Alberta, adjudication services for the Indian Residential School Claims Process and an assignment to the national roster of mediators for the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Mr. Robinson was born and raised in Edmonton. He is Métis (member of the Métis Nation of Alberta) and an active volunteer.

Norma Spicer

Norma Spicer has a passion for Métis history, culture and customs developed from hearing stories of her ancestors on her mother’s side. A descendent of Jean Baptiste Lagimodière and Marie-Anne Gaboury (the first white woman to settle in Western Canada) through their daughter Josepthe, Ms. Spicer’s family history includes those who fought alongside Louis Riel during the Métis Resistance.

Formerly with the Métis Nation of Alberta (MNA) in a variety of positions, Ms. Spicer remains a member of its Cultural Team, and conducts prayers and blessings for MNA events and ceremonies.

Recently, Ms. Spicer prepared a research paper on the Métis History of Fort Edmonton and Surrounding Areas for the Fort Edmonton Management Company and sits as a member of its Indigenous Expansion Committee.


Victor Buffalo, AOE, OC

Victor Buffalo is a former chief of the Samson Cree Nation, where he continues to reside.

A respected leader in the Aboriginal community, Chief Buffalo played an instrumental role in the Samson Cree Nation becoming the first Aboriginal nation in Canada to gain control of its natural resource revenues.

Chief Buffalo then took the lead in establishing Peace Hills Trust, the first and largest Aboriginal-owned financial institution in Canada, which helps to ensure financial stability and support for future generations of Samson Cree.

Through his involvement in a variety of organizations, notably the National Indigenous Economic Development Board and the Aboriginal Program at The Banff Centre for Management, Chief Buffalo has greatly contributed to the social and economic development of his community.

Grant Guidelines

The Archdiocese of Edmonton welcomes applications for local grants that support the following goals and criteria:

  • Healing and reconciliation for communities and families
  • Culture and language revitalization
  • Youth Leadership
  • Education and community building
  • Dialogue  involving  Indigenous  elders,  spiritual leaders, and  youth  with a focus on Indigenous spirituality and culture
  • Projects should be Indigenous-led and/or be supported by an Indigenous community.
  • Priority should be given to projects which will have or contribute to a lasting impact on reconciliation within communities.
  • Grant requests may be made for funding up to a  two-year limit, and grants may be renewed within the lifespan of the Fund.
  • All Fund grant recipients must be registered charities or in partnership with a registered charity as outlined in the Application Form.
  • IRF grants are not, normally, to be used to cover expenses (i.e. travel, etc.)
  • Projects receiving grants must be completed by December 31, 2029.

This Indigenous Reconciliation Fund may be stacked with other funding sources. For the purpose of this grant, the grant stack funding level to a recipient can be up to 100 per cent of the costs.

Grant Application

Deadline to apply is midnight on October 2, 2023. To submit a grant application, please fill out the Grant Application Form with details of your proposed project or initiative:

Download the Application Form

and send to:

Indigenous Reconciliation Fund Applications
c/o Marion Haggarty-France
Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton
8421-101 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB   T6A 0L1


If you have any questions, please e-mail