Catholic Church Looks Forward to Royal Commission Report

Tuesday, November 19 1996

CCCB Ottawa­ “The Catholic Church anticipates that the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples will provide clear directions for working to overcome the history of assimilation that has been the experience of First Nation’s Peoples in Canada.

“We are committed to working in solidarity with aboriginal peoples,” said Fr. Douglas Crosby, General Secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. “That commitment is grounded in the Gospel’s demand for justice and action. It is informed by a critical understanding of the manner in which missionary activity was immersed in the Euro­centric mentality of the colonial era.

“We are especially looking forward to the real possibility that this Report can help to establish an environment of hope for the 54 per cent of the native population of Canada which is under 25. We expect this Report to help Canadian governments and all of Canadian society to reconcile our shared history with the First Nations so we can enter the 21st century with a renewed commitment to charting a new course. We have to work together.

We welcome the release of the Report and look forward to reviewing it in detail. We expect:

“At every level of government, in each community, native and non­native, in each church and religious group, we must summon the will to alter the present course, to alter the drift to despair.” said Fr. Crosby.

In their 1993 submission to the Royal Commission, Canada’s bishops said: “It is not enough to talk about equality; there must be those who value the dignity of others as a matter of course. It is not enough to talk about respect; there must be people who are willing to guarantee the rights of others through daily acts of decency.”

In its submission, the CCCB made eleven commitments concerning education, social and economic justice, residential schools, aboriginal spirituality, native leadership, self government and land claims. Seven recommendations were made to the Royal Commission on public education, racism, employment equity, residential schools, land claims and post­secondary education.

“The commitment of the Catholic Church is focused on action and an intense desire to renew its relationship with the aboriginal peoples of Canada. For 25 years, together with our ecumenical partners, we have actively supported the journey of aboriginal peoples towards self­determination,” said Fr. Crosby.

“The work of the Royal Commission will be an important resource in our continuing dialogue and collaboration with the aboriginal peoples of Canada,” he said.