As the relationship between aboriginals and the Canadian government comes to a head, the Catholic Church has taken a step to note its ties to the country’s Indigenous Peoples.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is devoting a new section on its site, Catholic Church and Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the group announced on January 13.
“Since the earliest days of the Church in the Western hemisphere, there has been special concern and attention for the Indigenous peoples, many of whom have become part of the Church and given much to it,” the webpage states.
With a nod to tumultuous relations over the generations, given churches’ role in the residential boarding schools era, the site acknowledges, “As Pope John Paul II has noted, the evangelizing process over the years was uneven and limited.”
Composed of several sections, the site aims to highlight the ways in which churches “provide a place where Native and non-Native Peoples may find common ground.”
Areas of learning include Texts of the Holy See, Meetings with the Holy Father, Canadian Catholic Initiatives, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, National Day of Prayer for Aboriginal Peoples, Indian Residential Schools and the CCCB Art Collection.
Tekakwitha has been approved for sainthood. The site also covers Catholics known for administering to aboriginals during the days of colonialism and beyond, including the Canadian Martyrs, Sts. Jean de Brébeuf, Gabriel Lalement, Antoine Daniel, Charles Garnier, Noël Chabanel, Isaac Jogues, René Goupil and Jean de Lalande, killed in the 1640s when serving the Huron peoples, also known as the Wendat.
Readers will also see photographs such as then–Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and another of a delegation of First Nations peoples and CCAB officials that includes Winnipeg Archbishop James Weisgerber.