Friday, February 29, 2022

Letter to the Pastors of the Parishes of the Archdiocese of Ottawa.

Re: Church and Aboriginal Leaders Tour on the Truth & Reconciliation Commission

Many individual Catholic organizations throughout Canada have been working for many years up to now with First Nations toward healing and reconciliation. These have always been at the very heart of the dialogue on the Indian Residential Schools (IRS) issue. It is important to note that individual dioceses and religious orders involved with the IRS issue have been working for decades to nurture mutual understanding and respect, healing, reconciliation and collaboration with First Nations. Fifty Catholic entities are party to the Settlement Agreement and have made definite commitments to support the work of the Commission.

The Commissions work should become another important step toward healing and reconciliation, and it should become a forum in which perspectives on the flawed IRS system can be examined and discussed. Former IRS students and their families, religious members and congregations and everyone involved with the former Indian Residential Schools should be invited by the Commissioners to participate in the Commissions activities in a spirit of healing and reconciliation. The Catholic organizations will examine the Commissions plans as they develop and will be free to participate in a manner that they find appropriate.

In every era, people work according to their best vision. Those of us in the Catholic Church acknowledge that the Indian Residential School system was flawed, but we continue to be very proud and grateful for the thousands of men and women who served in the schools with dedication and faith. The Archdiocese of Ottawa had no Residential Schools, but it is supporting Catholic dioceses and religious communities involved in the process of reconciliation.

The Church and Aboriginal Leaders Tour on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission begins by a Ceremonial Opening at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 2, 2022. All are invited to take part in this most important activity to help church members and other Canadians, understand that reconciliation will be a long term process of relationship-building, needing everyones support. Issues in the relationship extend beyond the legacy of residential schools.

Yours truly in Christ,

+ Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Archbishop of Ottawa