Aboriginal peoples of Canada

Monday, November 24 1997

Vatican City (CCCB) — Archbishop Peter Sutton, O.M.I., of Keewatin-Le Pas, in an intervention at the Synod of Bishops’ Special Assembly for America , discussed how the Catholic Church in Canada is radically re-examining its relationship with the Aboriginal Peoples.

Archbishop Sutton said this re-examination is due to a number of factors. This includes the recognition, he added, “that we did not bring the Gospel to them in all its purity.”

“Rather, our initial missionary endeavour, for all its dedication, goodness and grace, was also marked by a lack of full respect for their culture and traditions and even, at times, by positive weaknesses and sin inherent in our own selves,” he said.

The Archbishop of the northern diocese said there is also recognition that “our own way of life on the North American continent led to much suffering and deprivation for these peoples.” Later he explained that aboriginal peoples are among the poorest of the poor in Canada.

Archbishop Sutton, appointed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II as a member of the Synod, was responding in his own name to Nos. 13 and 14 of the Instrumentum Laboris dealing with the Gospel and indigenous cultures.

He said that there has also been recognition of the inherent richness and value within native religious, moral and cultural traditions; that all future interrelations must be marked by a greater mutuality in every area; and that dialogue with them must be a dialogue of action involving a partnership to alleviate current injustices.

Archbishop Sutton concluded by recommitting the Church to walk into the future with Canada’s aboriginal peoples “in a renewed and purified covenant.” He said in doing so, “we hope that together we will more fully encounter the living Jesus Christ.”