In the heart of Edmonton, a beacon of hope and progress shines at Ben Calf Robe – St Clare Catholic School, a school serving over 450 students—98% of whom are from Indigenous families. In May, Bishop David Motiuk and the Eparchy’s leadership presented grants from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) for two transformative projects at the school:

Grant 1 – Nutrition and Wellness Program ($20,000)
The School’s Nutrition and Wellness Program was bolstered by a generous $20,000 grant from the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund. This financial support acknowledges the fundamental role of nutrition in education. Recognizing that a hungry child cannot focus on learning, the program ensures that students are well-fed and ready to engage in school activities. Beyond providing meals and snacks, the initiative extends its reach to families grappling with food insecurity by distributing weekly food hampers.

Grant 2 – Cultivating Leaders of Tomorrow ($1000)
With a vision to shape the leaders of tomorrow, the IRF also invested $1,000 into the Student Leadership Program. This program is designed to inspire young leaders from grades 7 to 9, offering them a chance to attend a leadership retreat that promises to be both inspiring and educational. These students drive community-building events and social justice projects, setting a precedent for belonging and solidarity within the school and the broader community.

Reymonde Thompson (principal) and Jessalyn Lastiwka (vice-principal) explained how the school is a model for integrating culture and language into everyday learning. Programs like Braided Journeys and Cree Language and Culture Nehiyaw Pimatisiwin are just a few examples of how the school is weaving a rich tapestry of cultural education. Investing in education for children and young people is one of the most important ways to support community revitalization, dialogue for promoting Indigenous spirituality, culture and language, and most importantly healing and reconciliation.

The Eparchy of Edmonton is grateful to work with Indigenous partners and members of the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) to promote projects that will move communities closer to healing and reconciliation from the painful realities of the Residential Schools. The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund (IRF) was established through the efforts of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ and plays a pivotal role in the healing and reconciliations within indigenous communities. Visit the IRF website for more information.

As we look to the future, projects like these two at Ben Calf Robe – St Clare school, are truly an investment in children’s future, hoping that every student is empowered to thrive and lead, fostering a legacy of resilience and unity, while respecting and growing their culture and faith. The Eparchy’s collaboration with Ben Calf Robe – St Clare School is a testament to their gratitude and respect for the incredible work of the school’s staff and volunteers. The IRF has expressed admiration for the school’s efforts, which have significantly benefited the students.

Let us continue to empower Indigenous youth through education, wellness, and leadership!