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“Truth and Reconciliation” – A history of Basilian involvement in Aboriginal social justice

October 2, 2023

Last year Pope Francis paid a visit to Canada, meeting Bishops and leaders of Indigenous groups.

“I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” he said, standing outside a former residential school in Maskwacis, Alberta.

In a similar manner, as we celebrate another day of Truth and Reconciliation, we at The Congregation of St. Basil stand with survivors, victims, and those who dedicate their lives to helping those who have suffered and shaping the future which is shaped by accountability.

We observe this day as a valuable time for reflection, education, dialogue, and healing. The attitude of our Faith in a better future shows through the efforts of our Congregation Members.

Father Morgan Rice shares these thoughts:

“As the Catholic Church in Canada continues efforts of reconciliation and healing with respect to Indigenous Peoples, I am encouraged by how our Basilian apostolates have participated in these efforts in various ways, particularly through the charism of education. Having not known about the residential school system before moving to Canada, I needed to be informed. I was grateful to participate in a parish program and high school activities, which helped me understand some of the history of the residential schools, with the hope of ongoing healing for the persons who have been hurt and an affirmation of the value Indigenous cultures bring to Canada and the Church.”

Father Bob Holmes, a dedicated advocate for indigenous rights, reminds us:

“One of our Basilian connections to the Truth and Reconciliation process has been through CPT – Community Peacemaker Teams. There are currently three Basilians active with CPT.

I personally have had the opportunity to work with CPT’s “Indigenous Solidarity Team” and most recently with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in British Columbia accompanying them as they defended their unceded territory against the construction of a pipeline being built without their free, prior, and informed consent as required under UN guidelines.

This violation of the rights of Indigenous peoples is one more aspect of Canada’s colonial history by which, as with the Residential Schools, Canadian and Provincial governments have, and continue to, deny the Truth of Indigenous culture, history, or territory, and fail to move towards Reconciliation.

Hopefully, these Days of Truth and Reconciliation will help Canadians to see the Truth more clearly and demand Reconciliation.”

As we continue our journey of Social Justice, we as a Congregation will continue to uphold our Mission and our walk in the steps of Our Lord to pursue goodness and justice for all.

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