As we continue to learn the challenging truth from the many discovered unmarked graves sites, we’ve put a lot of thought into how Réseau Compassion Network intends to respond as events in Canada continue to evolve.
Finding evidence of what they have always known causes pain and suffering for Indigenous people. These stories continue to shed light on the role the Catholic Church and the role many of our own founding congregations had in these harms being inflicted through their involvement in running the residential schools on behalf of the Government of Canada.
We cannot change the past, but we are responsible for our actions today and the harms and injustices that continue to be perpetrated as a result of colonization in Canada. We are called in our hearts to break down these systems, to call for justice and change; and to be the voice of unity and human rights that surely a loving Jesus would have been. We need to work to end the suffering of Indigenous people and to allow their people to heal and to prosper.
Moving forward Réseau Compassion Network will not be issuing statements. As part of the Catholic Church, this is not the time to centre our organisation’s response or reconciliation journey. Our job now is to do the work, the real work in front of us. Listening. Learning. Acknowledging. Bearing witness. This will lead to a deeper understanding that will guide our continued work and journey toward change. We have a long way to go and we are committed to creating meaningful change and long-lasting relationships.
We also know that each organization in our Network has their own reconciliation journey and that as organizations with dozens or hundreds of staff, their responses may need to be different. Many of our Network staff are Indigenous and many have been affected by residential schools. Through listening and learning, we want to create an environment where our community can share ideas and support one another.
There may be some inquiries regarding our founding congregations and the role they played in residential schools. We believe that the best approach is to allow those congregations to respond. We want to learn as much as we can from their past and pay attention to their own reconciliation journey. This too should support our efforts moving forward as a mission.
Our commitment to moving forward:
Reconciliation is a pillar within our strategic plan and we report our progress to our board.
We are moving slowly but with intention. There is a small group of Indigenous advisors who will be meeting in person as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted to get to know each other. Once they are ready, we will meet with them along with a small group of our CEOs to begin to discuss a potential leadership gathering to plan how to effectively. respond to the recommendations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
We have already taken some steps to move forward. Starting this year, the San Y’as Indigenous Cultural Safety Training program is mandatory for all appointed board directors and CEOs.
We continue to support the Clan Mothers’ who are creating a Village, guided by a female Elders Council and Indigenous healing models and methodologies, that will provide mid/long-term support for women/2SLGBTQQIA who have suffered intergenerational trauma, sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking. This project is Indigenous-led, female-led and led with the guidance of Elders and people with lived experienced.
We have a long journey ahead and are committed to actions that will stand in stark contrast to those that have led to the pain and suffering of Indigenous people.