As Canadians pause to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Catholic Bishops of Canada prayerfully reflect on the painful journey of Indigenous Peoples of This Land. We are especially mindful of the role of the Catholic Church in operating residential schools and the pain and ongoing trauma it has caused for generations of Indigenous families. In particular, we remember the children who endured pain and suffering in residential schools, aware that many did not return home.
We pray that our journey of Walking Together with Indigenous Peoples will continue to heal wounds and nurture a path that fosters healing and reconciliation. We were heartened by the encounters this year between the Holy Father and residential school Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and young people at the Vatican followed shortly thereafter by the penitential visit to Canada by Pope Francis. We recall the words of the Holy Father during his pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne:
“When we are lonely and restless, Jesus urges us to go out, to give, to love. So, let us ask ourselves: what do I do for those who need me? When looking at Indigenous Peoples and thinking of their history and the pain that they endured, what do I do? Do I merely listen with curiosity, horrified by what happened in the past, or do I do something concrete for them? Do I pray, meet, read, support them, and let myself be touched by their stories?”
May the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation provide each one of us an opportunity to learn, reflect and act in our ongoing journey of healing, reconciliation and hope.