Catholic bishops pledge $ 30 million for reconciliation projects

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TORONTO – The bishops of Canada on Monday pledged $ 30 million to support Indigenous reconciliation projects for residential school survivors, their families and communities across the country.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said in a press release that it seeks to distribute the money within five years, funding initiatives at the local level. Parishes across Canada are encouraged to participate and scale up the effort.

Raymond Poisson, president of the CCCB, hopes the funds will be used to support meaningful projects and make a difference for those experiencing continued trauma from the residential school system.

“There was a universal consensus that Catholic entities must do more in a tangible way to alleviate the suffering experienced in residential schools in Canada,” he said in the statement. “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, securing the necessary resources to help them on the road to recovery.” .

Funding for projects will be determined in consultation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations in each region.

“Ongoing conversations with local leaders will be instrumental in determining which programs are most worth supporting,” said CCCB Vice President William McGrattan. “There isn’t a single step that can take away the pain felt by residential school survivors, but by listening, seeking relationships and working collaboratively where we can, we hope to learn to walk together on a new path of hope.

The CCCB on Friday issued an apology acknowledging the horrors that occurred in the residential schools it led for the federal government for more than a century.

This is not the first time the church has pledged money to support residential school survivors. As part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in 2005, the church initially agreed to raise $ 25 million for survivors. In the end, however, less than $ 4 million was paid out.

There were 139 boarding schools in the federally funded program, which operated in Canada between the late 19th century and 1996. The Catholic Church operated many institutions.

Thousands of the 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children who attended these schools have died, with some estimates placing the death toll at 15,000. Hundreds of anonymous graves were found at the sites of several former residential schools earlier this year. ; in some cases, the number of children buried at the sites is believed to be significantly higher than any official death toll.

The announcement comes days before the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which will be celebrated for the first time on September 30.

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If you are a former residential school student in distress or have been affected by the residential school system and need assistance, you can contact the 24 hour residential schools crisis line: 1-866-925- 4419

Additional Aboriginal mental health support and resources are available here.

With files from CTVNews.ca writer Ryan Flanagan

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