In its 2008 annual report to the CCCB Plenary Assembly, the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council had recommended that the Catholic Church in
At the invitation of then-CCCB President Archbishop V. James Weisgerber, Mr. Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations at the time, addressed the Plenary Assembly. There, he invited the Church to enter a new partnership with Indigenous Peoples.
The following month, during their annual visit to the Dicasteries of the Holy See in November, the CCCB President, Vice President and General Secretary raised the possibility with the Holy Father of his receiving a delegation representing Canada’s Native Peoples and missionary congregations. Such a visit would provide the Pope with the opportunity to acknowledge, on behalf of the Church, the pain and indignity suffered by many Indigenous Peoples in
Following the acceptance of this request by the Holy See, plans for the historic 29 April 2009 meeting got underway.
29 April 2009 Meeting:
Pope Benedict XVI invited members of a Canadian delegation, composed of representatives of Indigenous communities and of Catholic dioceses and religious communities in
The Aboriginal representatives were all former students of residential schools: Mr. Phil Fontaine, then-National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Mr. Peter Kinew, an Elder; Mr. Edward John, Grand Chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation,
The representatives of Catholic dioceses and religious communities that were parties to the residential school system were the Most Reverend James Weisgerber, Archbishop of Winnipeg and then-President of the CCCB, the Most Reverend Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan and Chair of the Corporation of Catholic Entities that signed the Indian Residential School Settlement; Father Tim Coonen, O.M.I, representative of congregations of men religious that are included in the Agreement; Sister Marie Zarowny, S.S.A., representative of congregations of women religious that are included in the Agreement; and Mr. Pierre-L. Baribeau, legal advisor to the Catholic Entities.
Following the meeting, the Holy See Press Office issued the following communiqué:
“Given the sufferings that some indigenous children experienced in the
1Communiqué of the Holy See Press Office,;
http://press.catholica.va/news_services/bulletin/news/23776.php?index=23776&po_date=29.04.2009&lang=en, April 29, 2009