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Report of the Council for Reconciliation, Solidarity and Communion

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(Catholic Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation)
2002-2003


Introduction

The Council for Reconciliation, Solidarity and Communion with Aboriginal Peoples (Catholic Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation) was established by the 1997 Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, together with the Fund for Reconciliation, Solidarity and Communion. The original five-year term of the Fund was extended by the 2002 Plenary for another three-year term, renewable. Dioceses are invited to contribute $3,000 a year. Religious communities and other Catholic agencies also contribute to the initiative. In addition to funding healing projects, the Council is mandated to support efforts that promote reconciliation between Aboriginal communities and the Church.

Meetings

Since the 2002 CCCB Plenary Assembly, the Catholic Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation has met on two occasions: 23-25 November 2002, Winnipeg, and 28-30 June 2003, Ottawa. Each meeting began with a lengthy prayer service following the Aboriginal tradition of the sacred circle.

Because the Council meets in different community centres across the country, members become acquainted with Aboriginal groups whose efforts are also directed at ministry and Aboriginal/Church relations. In June, the Council met with members of the Kateri Mission of the Archdiocese of Ottawa.

In addition to funding allocations, details of which are outlined below, the Council discussed the following:

-Second Mission Congress for America (CAM 2), Guatemala: The Council noted that this Congress will be taking place in the most Aboriginal of all countries in the Americas and voted to sponsor two Catholic Aboriginal youth to join the Canadian delegation to that Congress. Calvin Stevens from Eskasoni, Nova Scotia, and Melanie Pelletier from Sudbury, Ontario, have agreed to attend the Congress as representatives of the Catholic Aboriginal Council. Upon their return, they will report on their experience at the Congress, addressing particularly how the Aboriginal face of Jesus was manifest at this historic gathering.

-Returning to Spirit: This healing program, developed in the Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith, is gaining popularity in a number of other dioceses. It has been praised for creating the possibility for individuals and groups consciously to create a future based on forgiveness, trust, collaboration and appreciation.

The Council fully supports the program and voted to promote it throughout the country. To date five-day workshops have been presented in Yellowknife, Fort Good Hope, Iles-à-la-Crosse, Nanaimo, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Victoria, Le Pas and Sagkeeng, with sessions set for the fall at St. Theresa Point, Canoe Narrows, and Iqaluit. In 2004 the Returning to Spirit program will present 15 more workshops, plus a 10-day training session to prepare more Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal facilitators.

In addition, a modified Returning to Spirit program has been designed for elderly members of religious institutes who worked in the former Indian residential schools.

-Aboriginal Prayer Day: Proposed for 12 December (Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe). The Council has prepared a package of prayers offered as a guide including:

· The Mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe from A Supplement to the Sacramentary

· Prayer in the Six Directions from Prayers for World Youth Day 2002 (a CCCB publication), recommended for those who choose to gather for a brief period of prayer together

· Joseph Chiwatenhwa’s Prayer, recommended for those who choose to take a time for reflective reading

-KAIROS’ Aboriginal Rights Committee: The Council had been asked to recommend a CCCB representative to the KAIROS Aboriginal Rights Committee. Joanne Jefferson from the Stolo Nation in British Columbia was approached. She agreed, and was approved by the KAIROS Board, and will serve a term of two years.

-Proposed First Nations Governance Act: The Council expressed its concern about the implication of federal government action on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations in Canada, and supports the Aboriginal Rights Committee initiatives this year to develop and promote an understanding and awareness of Aboriginal and treaty rights.

-Residential Schools: The Council was updated on the state of negotiations with the federal government.


Fund

The members of the Council reviewed applications for grants from the Fund for Reconciliation, Solidarity and Communion, which is made up principally of annual contributions from dioceses. Since the last Plenary Assembly, 14 projects have received grants totaling $133,500:

· 2 grants totaling $14,500 for a project in Alberta
· 5 grants totaling $24,000 for projects in British Columbia
· 2 grants totaling $7,000 for projects in Ontario
· 2 grants totaling $9,000 for projects in Quebec
· 2 grants totaling $4,000 for projects in Saskatchewan
· 1 grant totaling $75,000 for a national project (Returning to Spirit).


+ Albert LeGatt
+ Vital Massé
CCCB Representatives on Council for Reconciliation,
Solidarity and Communion
(Catholic Aboriginal Council for Reconciliation)


For More information Contact:
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Director, Communications Service
Tel: (613) 241-9461
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Last Updated on Tuesday, August 08 2006  
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On January 13th 2010, Most Reverend Vincent Nguyen became Canada’s first Catholic Bishop of East Asian descent. He is the great-grandson of a Vietnamese Martyr.