Projects support healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

04 March 2024

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

Thirty-four projects have been approved within the area of the Archdiocese of Edmonton to support a national commitment towards healing and reconciliation with First Nation, Inuit and Métis people.

The Indigenous Reconciliation Discernment Circle, whose members are local indigenous leaders, has recommended the projects and initiatives focused on healing and reconciliation for communities and families; culture and language revitalization; as well as education and community building.

Those projects have been approved by the national Indigenous Reconciliation Fund committee.

Cam Alexis

“Firstly, as the board chair, I want to thank the Archdiocese team and Archbishop Richard Smith for the collaboration with my Indigenous colleagues on the committee to create policies and a team that included the Archbishop to support healing and reconciliation,” said Cam Alexis, chairman of the Indigenous Reconciliation Discernment Circle in the Archdiocese of Edmonton.

“We as a board are pleased that multiple non-profit organizations within our discernment were selected based on our criteria, you will observe that a broad selection of recipients were selected. I’m very proud of the committee for their dedication,” said Alexis, a member of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.

The Archdiocese of Edmonton has made a commitment of $3.2 million, over five years, is part of a national Indigenous Reconciliation Fund.

The IRF is a registered charity established in 2022 that accepts contributions from 73 Catholic entities across Canada. It will advance local healing and reconciliation initiatives fulfilling a commitment of $30 million pledged by Canada’s Bishops.

To date, the IRF has raised $14,099,813.74 to date, putting the fund on track for its five-year, $30 million commitment. To learn more about the National Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, visit their website

A list of projects within the Archdiocese of Edmonton can be found on the national Indigenous Reconciliation Fund site. The projects are categorized by three pillars: Healing and Reconciliation for Communities and Families; Culture and Language Revitalization; Education and Community Building.

Project summaries are added every month as details become available.

Locally, the Archdiocese of Edmonton will profile some of the 34 projects and initiatives as they move closer towards completion.

The projects or initiatives include:

  • Extending Veronica Graff’s role as the Indigenous liaison at M.E. LaZerte high school. Kookum Veronica will lead a variety of workshops, including Blanket Exercises, Indigenous Culture Awareness, Art Projects, Tipi Teachings, Storytelling, and Land Acknowledgments.
  • Support for the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology (IPIA) at the University of Alberta has made continued efforts to provide advice, resources, and other services to Indigenous communities searching for unmarked graves.
  • The Lac Ste. Anne Steel Tipi Monument, named Dagucayami Inishnobge (“our past relatives”), is a project initiated by the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation.
    The monument is to ensure that the Nation’s rich heritage, spirituality, and enduring connection to the land are retained for future generations
  • A healing pavilion on the Enoch Cree Nation at Our Lady of Mercy parish. Situated near the Church, the pavilion will serve as a sacred space for prayer, spirituality, healing, and celebration.
  • Funding from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) will support the implementation of Decolonizing Wellness: Empowering Indigenous Youth, a project at the Telus World of Science
  • The IRF enable students from the 15 Braided Journeys school sites in Edmonton Catholic Schools to participate in field trips to the 5 Freedoms Ranch Rescue & Rehabilitation. The collaboration brings Indigenous students closer to their culture through field trips to the ranch, where they actively engage in an equine wellness program and cultural activities.
  • Funding from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund will allow Covenant Health to provide continued education and cultural awareness training. The grant will also support workshops and stakeholder gatherings, the design of a cultural birthing room, and honorariums for Indigenous leaders and Elders to share valuable advice and consultation throughout the project.
  • Ever Active Schools (EAS), in collaboration with Jasper Place High School’s Indigenous Leading Spirits Club in Edmonton, Alberta, is embarking on a journey to create an Indigenous Sports Program. The focus is on promoting healing and reconciliation within communities while providing leadership opportunities for youth through sports, recreation, and athletics.

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund board wishes to acknowledge and thank the Archdiocese of Edmonton and its Indigenous Reconciliation Discernment Circle board for the good work that they have done in supporting efforts towards healing and reconciliation.