Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage: Journeying toward dialogue, reconciliation and friendship

Monday, August 14, 2017

Jesuit Canoe Pilgrimage-2On 21 July 2017, a group of thirty men and women began a canoe pilgrimage of some 800 kilometers, inspired by the Calls for Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They departed from the historic sites of Sainte-Marie among the Hurons and the Canadian Martyrs Shrine in Midland, Ontario, and plan to arrive on 15 August, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the First Nations community of Kahnawake, near Montreal, which is also the home of the Shrine of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha and where she is buried. Following the traditional trading route used by the First Nations, as well as the 17th-century Jesuit missionaries and the early European explorers, including Samuel de Champlain, the canoeists have travelled through Georgian Bay, the French River, Lake Nipissing, and then the Mattawa and Ottawa Rivers, and will finish on the Saint Lawrence River.

Jesuit Canoe Pilgrimage-1Working in collaboration with their project manager, Jesuit seminarian Erik Sorensen, the participants are from different parts of the country, representing various Aboriginal groups, religious communities and other organizations. They include Mr. Kyle Ferguson, Advisor for Ecclesial and Interfaith Relations with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), as well as Sister Eva Solomon, from the Henvey Inlet Ojibwe First Nation and a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie, who is currently based in Winnipeg and is part of the Building Bridges program founded by the Western Assembly of Catholic Bishops and focuses on Indigenous inculturation and interculturation of faith.

Jesuit Canoe Pilgrimage-8Jesuit Canoe Pilgrimage-6Along their pilgrimage route, the canoeists are being greeted by local parish and Aboriginal communities as well as communities of religious life. Upon their arrival in Gatineau, on 9 August, they were welcomed by the Most Reverend Roger Ébacher, Archbishop Emeritus of Gatineau, on behalf of Archbishop Paul-André Durocher. The next day, the Most Reverend Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Archbishop of Ottawa, welcomed them to Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica for a Eucharistic celebration and a meal, followed by a talk by the Jesuit historian Father Jacques Monet on the history of the route they are following. The canoe pilgrimage is receiving considerable media coverage, has its own bilingual website,, and can be followed through a Facebook page entitled Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage.

Link to the Facebook page