Background Information: Initiative for Reconciliation, Solidarity and Communion

Wednesday, June 17 1998

Canada’s Catholic bishops, at their October 1997 Annual Plenary Assembly voted to establish an initiative for reconciliation, solidarity and communion. This was, in part, the result of earlier collaboration with native peoples through Project North and the Aboriginal Rights Coalition, and also partly to fulfill a promise made to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

In its September 1993 brief to the Royal Commission, the CCCB had committed itself to addressing a number of factors which continue to marginalise aboriginal people in Canada. The goal of the initiative is to promote a deep understanding and commitment for establishing a new covenant between aboriginal and non- aboriginal people in Canada. The initiative is to reflect the respect and care for persons and cultures which the Gospel demands. It will do this through a threefold program of awareness, healing and communion.

A Council for Reconciliation, Solidarity and Communion is being set up to carry out this initiative and to provide advice and guidance to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and other agencies and organizations on aboriginal issues, especially for concerns affecting reconciliation, solidarity and communion. The Council will also direct a fund that is being established to assist community-based projects with the same or similar objectives.

The Council will be made up of representatives from the CCCB as well as members of aboriginal communities from across Canada who have expertise in the areas of education, healing, cross-cultural therapy and restorative justice. Appointments to the Council will be completed by the end of June 1998, and its composition made public at that time. The co-ordinator for this initiative is Mr. Gerry Kelly, who has also served with the National Catholic Working Group on Residential Schools.