(CCCB – Ottawa)… The Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will meet in Saskatoon, 19-20 June 2012, immediately preceding the national event there by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 21 to 24 June. The members of the Aboriginal Council specifically chose to hold their semi-annual meeting in Saskatoon to demonstrate their solidarity with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). On the evening of 22 June, the Aboriginal Council will make a public declaration on the work of the TRC, as well as present TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair a framed print from the CCCB art collection.
The art piece is entitled “The Baptism of Christ by John the Baptist”. The artist, Tony Hunt, is from the Aboriginal community of Kwakiutl, Victoria, B.C. The original painting is on a cedar panel from Virginia. Commenting on his work, the artist has stated: “Although our cultures differ, within both traditions there appears a Creator and 'historic' figures who have dedicated themselves to the spiritual and secular well-being of mankind. I sincerely hope that through this very important project a greater understanding of native culture will result in a spiritual harmony for all peoples of this world.” The CCCB art collection dates back to 1975 when the Bishops of Canada commissioned 20 artists from across the country to create works which would convey the Christian message and also serve to illustrate one of its publications at the time, the Sunday Mass Book.
The Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council is made up of seven indigenous representatives from different regions of Canada, some of whom had attended the former residential schools, in addition to two Catholic Bishops. The Bishops currently on the Aboriginal Council are the Most Reverend Claude Champagne, O.M.I., Bishop of Edmundston, and the Most Reverend Murray Chatlain, Bishop of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. The Council was established in 1998 by the CCCB to advise and assist it on issues relating to indigenous peoples in Canada, and to support and encourage efforts by the CCCB and individual Bishops toward reconciliation between the Catholic Church and indigenous communities.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formally established on June 1, 2008, following the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. It has a five-year mandate “to contribute to truth, healing and reconciliation”.