Returning to Spirit (RTS) is a non-profit healing and reconciliation initiative which organizes separate workshops for Aboriginal people, including former-residential school students, and for non-Aboriginal people, including men and women religious who taught and administered the schools, followed by a joint workshop with both groups. Its focus is on personal transformation and empowerment.
RTS was created by Marc Pizandawatc, an Algonquin from Kitiganzibi First Nation, and Ann Thompson, a Sister of Saint Anne from B.C. The two met during a workshop that Marc Pizandawatc was conducting in Yellowknife. From that conversation, "Returning to Spirit" was born. Through the initiative and efforts of the Most Reverend Denis Croteau, O.M.I., then the Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, the process was adopted and expanded in other dioceses.
The Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council also contributed to the development of Returning to Spirit by providing funding from the Fund for Reconciliation, Solidarity and Communion until RTS was incorporated in 2006. Today, the RTS workshops have enabled hundreds of Church and First Nations persons to reclaim and reconstitute their personal and communal lives.
Catholic Bishops in Canada encourage RTS as a proven and effective process for healing, reconciliation and better mutual understanding.