Catholic Church Looks Forward to Royal Commission ReportTuesday, 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:
- that it will clarify many troublesome issues including the role of the churches in the native residential schools and provide strong guidance on this issue;
- that it will be equally clear about the prominent role of the federal government in native residential schools; we expect clear recommendations on how the federal government may become directly involved in remedying outstanding issues;
- that it will provide real clarity on long standing issues such as native selfgovernment, land claims, native justice, health issues, education and employment, as well as on broader issues of economic, social and cultural development.
“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.