In preparation for the upcoming meeting on January 11, 2013, the Most Reverend Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), has written to the Right Honourable Stephen Harper and National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo to assure them of the prayers and encouragement of the Bishops of Canada. “We trust your discussions will contribute to a process that will address the concerns of all Indigenous People in Canada – First Nations, Inuit, and Metis,” the letter states.


We hope your meeting and any eventual process will find support from all Canadians and political leaders, as well as from the members and leadership of Indigenous communities. This is an important moment for building on the goodwill and efforts of the past, in order that our country can work together in finding constructive ways to resolve the major underlying issues. Current concerns about education, housing, safe drinking water, access to health care, and land settlements, while critical and pressing to the First Nations, are symptomatic of deeper economic, political and social questions among all Indigenous People. The daily sporadic demonstrations taking place across our country by members of the First Nations are a sign not only of how opportune your meeting is, but also encouraging evidence of renewed determination among Indigenous People to be a major part of the solutions to their challenges and frustrations. It is of fundamental importance that Indigenous People and their leaders remain engaged as active and responsible agents of their own cultural, economic and social development.

Visit the CCCB website to read the full text of Archbishop Smith's letter.