Canadian Catholic bishops establish Indigenous Reconciliation Fund to support healing and reconciliation projects across Canada

(File Photo by Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By CCCB Communications with additional files from Catholic Saskatoon News

[OTTAWA – January 28, 2022] – Canada’s Catholic Bishops have agreed to establish a new registered charity to support and advance healing and reconciliation initiatives.

The charity will manage the newly-established Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, which will accept contributions from 73 dioceses across Canada in order to fulfill the $30-million voluntary financial commitment made by Canada’s Catholic bishops in September to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors and their communities.

“The bishops of Canada are fully committed to addressing the historical and ongoing trauma caused by the residential school system,” said Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). “In moving forward with our collective financial commitment, we will continue to be guided by the experience and wisdom of Indigenous peoples across the country.”

Feb. 2, 2022 – UPDATE – In a message to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Bishop Mark Hagemoen has announced the diocesan five-year goal of $1.25 million to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors and their communities. Funds raised in our diocese will be part of a national $30-million fund-raising pledge announced by the Catholic bishops of Canada, following their apology to the Indigenous Peoples of this land. – PDF of Feb. 2 letter from Bishop Hagemoen

Feb. 2 , 2022 – UPDATE – The Archdiocese of Regina Truth and Reconciliation Committee announced more details about the  creation and support of reconciliation initiatives, including announcement of a $2-million fund-raising goal, which is well on its way to being met. – PDF of message from Truth and Reconciliation Committee co-chairs Archbishop Don Bolen and Susan Beaudin

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund will be managed with financial measures in place to ensure transparency and good governance. Board directors and members of the corporation will collectively bring a strong financial acumen and deep commitment to the healing and reconciliation journey.

The directors of the board include:

  • Chief Wilton Littlechild, Ph.D, a Cree chief, residential school survivor, and lawyer who served as a Commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Chief Littlechild has been a Member of Parliament, Vice-President of the Indigenous Parliament of the Americas, North American Representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and a Chairperson for the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform.
  • Giselle Marion, who holds a law degree from the University of British Columbia and was called to the Bar in the Northwest Territories in 2008. During her articles Ms. Marion worked for the Department of Justice. She is a Tłı̨ chǫ Citizen and was born and raised in Behchokǫ̀, NT. She is the Director of Client Services with the Tłı̨chǫ Government out of the Behchokǫ̀ office.
  • Rosella Kinoshameg, an Odawa/Ojibway woman from the Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation Territory. She is a Registered Nurse with over 50 years of nursing experience, mostly working with First Nations communities doing community health, maternal child health, immunizations, home and community Care. She was one of the original members of the CCCB’s Indigenous Council and continues to serve as a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle.

The members of the corporation include:

  • Natale Gallo, a former Supreme Director of the Knights of Columbus, where he represented Canada on the International Board of Directors.
  • Claude Bédard, National President of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Canada.
  • Barbara Dowding, former National President of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada.

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund will publish annual reports and will be subject to an audit by an independent accounting firm each year.

Any administrative costs will be on top of the $30 million being raised and will not be deducted from this principal amount.

Funding priorities

While specific disbursement guidelines will be informed by additional input from Indigenous partners, the intention is to contribute funds to the following priorities:

  • Healing and reconciliation for communities and families;
  • Culture and language revitalization;
  • Education and community building; and
  • Dialogues for promoting indigenous spirituality and culture.

Regional and/or diocesan granting committees will be established across the country to identify projects that further the fund’s priorities, review applications and request funds to support such projects. These committees will include Indigenous and Catholic membership and it is recommended that they be chaired by local Indigenous partners.

The establishment of the new national framework builds on existing voluntary fundraising efforts already underway by local Catholic entities, including the Archdioceses of Winnipeg and St. Boniface, the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan, and the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

Diocese of Saskatoon efforts

In the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, where Catholic TRC Healing Response fund-raising initiated by the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan was launched in July 2021, Bishop Mark Hagemoen welcomed the news from the CCCB about the structure being set in place for the $30-million national fund-raising pledge.

“I am grateful and excited to hear the news from the CCCB regarding the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund and the plan to implement diocesan and/or regional granting committees,” said Hagemoen.

“The Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan are meeting, and I look forward to making further information available about our own diocesan process and goal early next week,” he added.

“I am grateful to all those who have already supported this important initiative with donations and prayers. As Catholics, and as brothers and sisters of a much larger human community – we know that we must all take responsibility for amends and healing for past sins. We now enter this new time of opportunity and responsibility,” Hagemoen said.

Related: Saskatchewan bishops launch Catholic TRC Healing Response

Previous fund-raising tied to Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement

In its media statement about the fund-raising structure for the $30-million campaign, the Catholic bishops of Canada state that they recognize that there has been considerable disappointment with a previous Catholic fundraising campaign tied to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). “While the CCCB was not party to the agreement, the bishops have recognized the shortcomings of that campaign and learned critically important lessons to ensure that the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund is fully funded and well managed with appropriate oversight,” states the release.

Additional information on the “best efforts” campaign led by the Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential School Settlement can be found at:

The CCCB will continue to provide regular public updates on this work, including on the appointment of directors, as part of the ongoing journey towards healing and reconciliation.


About the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) is the national assembly of the Bishops of Canada. It was founded in 1943 and officially recognized by the Holy See in 1948.