Catholic bishops pledge $30M for residential school survivors, AFN expresses skepticism

Canada’s Catholic bishops on Monday mentioned they might give $30 million to assist help survivors of the residential college system, a pledge met with cautious optimism by some survivors and skepticism by the Meeting of First Nations. 

“I’m glad they’re saying it, but I’ll wait until we see it,” mentioned Madeleine Whitehawk, a Cote First Nation elder and a survivor of St. Philip’s Catholic residential college in Saskatchewan.

The Canadian Convention of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) mentioned the funds can be doled out over 5 years. The transfer comes after the CCCB apologized to Indigenous individuals for the struggling endured in Canada’s residential faculties, most of which had been run by the Catholic Church.

“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,” CCCB president Raymond Poisson mentioned in an announcement.

“The commitment will be achieved at the local level, with parishes across Canada being encouraged to participate and amplify the effort.”

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AFN Nationwide Chief RoseAnne Archibald mentioned the bishops’ pledge is ‘lengthy overdue.’ (Paul Poirier/CBC)

AFN Nationwide Chief RoseAnne Archibald mentioned in an announcement the pledge was “long overdue.”

And, she added: “Due to previous financial promises by the church not being met, [I’m] sure the Bishops will understand First Nations skepticism and mistrust about their commitments.”

The church dedicated in 2005 to pay $29 million in money below the landmark Indian Residential Colleges Settlement, however paperwork lately obtained by CBC Information confirmed a lot of the cash was spent on legal professionals, administration, a personal fundraising firm and unapproved loans.

It additionally promised to give “best efforts” to fundraise $25 million, however raised lower than $4 million. There was additionally a dedication to offer $25 million price of “in-kind services.” Church officers say that third dedication was met.

WATCH | Thousands and thousands for residential college survivors spent on legal professionals, administration: 

Thousands and thousands meant for residential college survivors spent on Catholic Church legal professionals, administration

The Catholic Church spent thousands and thousands of {dollars} earmarked to residential college survivors on legal professionals, administration, a personal fundraising firm and unapproved loans, in accordance with paperwork obtained by CBC Information. 2:12

“We’re no longer accepting hollow apologies. Concrete actions and changed behaviour are essential as we walk the healing path forward,” Archibald mentioned. 

Motion and dialogue over reconciliation have ramped up because the early spring after a number of Indigenous communities throughout Canada reported discovering unmarked burial websites on or close to the grounds of former residential faculties. The CCCB mentioned it could assist find extra unmarked websites.

Archibald and different Indigenous leaders have known as on Pope Francis to go to survivors and to apologize in individual for the church’s function in working residential faculties.

The CCCB mentioned in June nationwide Indigenous leaders will meet with the Pope on the Vatican in December. A delegation of First Nations, Métis and Inuit will meet with him individually between Dec. 17 and 20.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, director of the College of British Columbia’s Indian Residential Faculty Historical past and Dialogue Centre mentioned there’s “unfinished business” on disclosing college paperwork and data of unmarked graves. However she mentioned the $30-million announcement is an enormous step price celebrating.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, pictured in 2020, mentioned the $30-million announcement is a step price celebrating. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

“It’s quite remarkable. It’s very welcome — a very, very positive thing,” Turpel-Lafond mentioned.

“It suggests they’re getting serious about taking concrete steps here.”

Turpel-Lafond mentioned the trouble have to be clear, with common public reporting and accounting. It should even be led by survivors and their descendants

“This is all so important to start building trust,” she mentioned.