Calgary Catholic Diocese announces financial support plan for residential school survivors

The Calgary Catholic Diocese has announced it’s committed to providing money to support residential school survivors.

There were 25 residential schools in Alberta. Sixteen were Catholic.

Now the Diocese of Calgary has announced that measures are being taking to financially support survivors.

“The survivors have been asking for this kind of compensation since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report came out,” said Marilyn North Peigan, a Resolution Health Support worker.

Read more: FSIN calls on Catholic Church to follow through with compensating residential school survivors

In a statement posted on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary website, the diocese outlines its plans.

“Bishop William McGrattan has been in consultation with other bishops and diocesan collaborators to be in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples and their leaders on the next steps in supporting survivors and in addressing the intergenerational harm caused by the Residential Schools,” the statement read.

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The organization said it is “committed to providing a monetary contribution” as part of an effort to promote “justice and healing.”

The amount of the financial support will be announced in September.

The Diocese said of the 25 residential schools in Alberta, four were operated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and were within the boundaries of the Diocese.

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary did not operate any of the residential schools.” said a statement from the Calgary Diocese.

Read more: Calgary Catholic bishop hopes apology over residential schools will lead to healing

Advocates said while the announcement is “encouraging” there is still a need for an official apology from the Pope.

“[The church is] trying to do some reparations to the harms they’ve caused, but when you reread it you see no reference to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the 94 Calls to Action,” said Michelle Robinson,  a co-founder of the the Reconciliation Action Group.

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“I know the survivors have really been wanting an apology from the Pope,” she said. “I don’t know if the statement is a way to try to get away from talking about the apology needed from the pope because that is still a call to action we are looking for,” Robinson said.

Read more: B.C. First Nation demands Pope Francis visit Canada to see the aftermath of residential schools

North Peigan would like to see money go towards programs to help survivors heal.

“I think it’s important to recognize that that there is a broken relationship between the church and the residential school survivors. Money isn’t going to do everything, but it’s a show that we can start building a new relationship,” North Peigan said. “We are damaged as well. A lot of it has to go into healing and into wellness programs.

“My generation in particular — we had a lot of drug addiction and alcohol problems and suicide was a big factor.

“We need some healing programs to happen in the future,” North Peigan said.

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Churches targeted by vandals, arsonists after unmarked graves found at residential school sites – Jul 2, 2021

Dr. Linda ManyGuns, associate vice-president of Indigenization and decolonization at Mount Royal University, said she is grateful for the announcement but is disappointed it came out after the discoveries of remains at residential schools. ManyGuns said the Canadian government needs to be held accountable too and all churches need to come clean with their historical documents.

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“The government was the employer, and if these churches really wanted to be decent they would turn over all the records too,” ManyGuns said.

“I would like to see them expend all the costs that it will take to bring home all the bodies of all the people that were deceased in the institutions that they were running.  I think every single church should be doing that,” ManyGuns said.

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Indigenous priest reflects on family ties to residential schools and the Catholic Church – Jul 5, 2021

When the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) was signed in 2006, the Roman Catholic Church agreed to provide $25 million in compensation for historical wrongs. Most of that money has not been raised.

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