On Monday, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that the organization has pledged $30 million in funding towards supporting Indigenous healing and reconciliation initiatives of those that attended residential schools.
"The Bishops of Canada, as a tangible expression of their commitment to walk with the Indigenous Peoples of this land along the pathway of hope, are making a nation-wide collective financial commitment to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors, their families, and their communities," wrote the CCCB in a statement of Monday.
The organization looks to issue the money within a five year period, and will include initiatives in every region of the country.
"The commitment will be achieved at the local level, with parishes across Canada being encouraged to participate and amplify the effort," the statement continued.
President of the CCCB Bishop Raymond Poisson expressed hope that the funds would assist in addressing the trauma those who went through the residential school system faced.
"When the Bishops of Canada came together in Plenary last week, there was universal consensus that Catholic entities needed to do more in a tangible way to address the suffering experienced in Canada's residential schools. Comprised of local diocesan initiatives, this effort will help support programs and initiatives dedicated to improving the lives of residential school survivors and their communities, ensuring resources needed to assist in the path of healing," said Possion.
The funding will be determined at a local level in close consultation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples in each region.
"The Bishops of Canada have committed and tasked themselves to develop national principles and strategy, timelines, and the public communication of these collective initiatives this November," the statement continued.
Vice President of the CCCB Bishop William McGrattan, noted the importance of working closely with Indigenous Peoples on the specifics of the funding.
“The Bishops of Canada have been guided by the principle that we should not speak about Indigenous People without speaking with them. To that end, the ongoing conversations with local leadership will be instrumental in discerning the programs that are most deserving of support. There is no single step that can eliminate the pain felt by residential school survivors, but by listening, seeking relationships, and working collaboratively where we are able, we hope to learn how to walk together in a new path of hope," said McGrattan.
The announcement comes just days after the CCCB issued an apology to Indigenous people across Canada in regards to the trauma faced in the residential schools, which were most commonly run by the Catholic Church.
"We, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, gathered in Plenary this week, take this opportunity to affirm to you, the Indigenous Peoples of this land, that we acknowledge the suffering experienced in Canada's Indian Residential Schools," the Bishops organization said on Friday.
"Many Catholic religious communities and dioceses participated in this system, which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples. We acknowledge the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual," the apology continued.
"We also sorrowfully acknowledge the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day. Along with those Catholic entities which were directly involved in the operation of the schools and which have already offered their own heartfelt apologies, we, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our profound remorse and apologize unequivocally," the statement added.