The mission of the Office for Social Justice is to promote and encourage education and action for social justice within the Catholic community of the Archdiocese. The Office also works to bring the message of the Gospel and Church social teaching to public discussions on social issues.
Administrative Assistant: Susanne Brohier
Phone: 780-469-1010 ext. 2131
Or email using the Contact Us link
What we do
- Support social justice initiatives in parishes and in the community.
- Research, educate and take action on issues including: housing, poverty, the environment, aboriginal rights, women, labour and restorative justice.
- Plan and organize educational events.
- Develop educational resources.
- Write briefs and make presentations to governments.
- Work with community organizations and coalitions.
- Facilitate workshops.
- Respond to requests for information
Truth & Reconciliation Commission
Four days of special events and ceremonies were capped in Ottawa on June 2, 2015, with the release of the Summary Report by Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The commission has examined in detail the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada and issued 94 "Calls to Action" aimed at healing and nurturing the relationship between indigenous peoples and other Canadians. Full details of the Commission's work can be found at http://www.trc.ca.
The schools were funded by the federal government and operated in most cases by churches or religious communities. The Corporation of Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement (CEPIRSS) represents 17 dioceses and 37 religious institutes involved in managing and helping to operate the schools on behalf of the Government of Canada.
Here are some responses of Catholic leaders to the TRC Summary Report:
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has issued an initial response to the summary report and Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Permanent Council calls the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission "another important step in providing further opportunity for deeper encounter, greater understanding and renewed hope" for the First Nations, Inuit and Metis, as well as for all Canadians. The CCCB Council confirms that the Calls to Action recommended to Churches by the TRC will be on the agenda of the next Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Canada, set for September 14-18. "We are committed to ensuring that the Calls to Action will be given careful hearing and full discussion," the statement says. "We are confident they will be carefully considered, and in this process we know we can count on the collaboration of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council."
Link to the full text of the statement
Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, President of the CEPIRSS
"I want to express our appreciation to the Commissioners who have worked tirelessly to lead us all in a very searching examination of conscience in regard to a painful period in our history. The Commission has now presented all Canadians with Calls to Action. ... On behalf of Catholic entities, I receive these challenges and encourage others in our community to do so as well. In the next few months, I will be presenting these Calls to Action to all of the Bishops of Canada and to the Canadian Religious Conference as direction posts and milestones on the way to a reconciled future..."
Link to the statement by Archbishop Pettipas (PDF)
Joint Church Statement
A joint statement was also issued on behalf of The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Roman Catholic Entities Parties to the Settlement Agreement, The United Church of Canada, and the Jesuits of English Canada. "We are grateful to the survivors, whose courageous witness has touched the heart of the life of our churches. There have been apologies from our churches, yet we know that our apologies are not enough. And so we are grateful as well to the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for their findings and for their clarity about our continuing responsibilities...."
Link to the joint statement
Rev. Ken Forster OMI, Provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe Province
Father Ken preached on reconcilation during his homily on Trinity Sunday. "...These evil acts of ours, whether done intentionally or unintentionally, as well as sins of omission, failing to do the good, need the healing forgiveness of the Creator and the forgiveness of First Nations. Today we pray that we non-aboriginals own the truth of the injury caused by ourselves and by the unjust system of a dominant colonial society that continues today. Let us own our sin and repent! ..."
Link to Father Ken's homily
Earlier Public Statements at TRC event in Edmonton, March 2014
Alberta Bishops TRC Statement Gesture of Reconciliation – delivered by Archbishop Smith
Oblates of Lacombe Province TRC Statement Gesture of Reconciliation – delivered by Rev. Ken Forster OMI, Provincial
Canadian Council of Churches TRC Statement – delivered by Lt. Col. Jim Champ, CCC President, CCCB among signers of Statement)
Information sheet on Indian Residential Schools in Alberta
Directions in Aboriginal Ministry
“Directions in Aboriginal Ministry” is a program of the Building Bridges Project which is the work of the Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops’ Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs.
The focus of Directions in Aboriginal Ministry is on interculturation of faith, and the program runs each summer with a different theme. This year's theme is“Decolonizing Pastoral Ministry: The Journey after the TRC, Building Right Relations of Respect and Integrity."
The 2015 program runs from Monday, Aug. 17, to Thursday, Aug. 20, at the Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre, 3690 - 152 Street, Surrey, BC V3S 0L3.
Contact Sister Eva Solomon, CSJ, D. Min., Coordinator of Building Bridges Project, at 1-204-221-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Download the program outline
Download the poster (8 1/2 x 11)
Note: Three bursaries of $500 each are available to attendees from the Archdiocese of Edmonton. Contact Bob in the Office for Social Justice for more information.