The Catholic Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories have issued a Letter of Invitation to all Catholics in advance of the national Truth and Reconciliation event set for Edmonton March 27-30.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is working to document the history and the continuing legacy of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada. The schools, which operated for over 120 years, were instituted and funded by the Federal Government, and administered by Canadian church organizations, most of which were Roman Catholic.

In their letter, the seven bishops say that some students benefited from the experience and education they received at these schools, but "we acknowledge with deep pain that others speak of their experience at Residential Schools in terms of pain, suffering, and lengthy alienation from family, local community, language and culture. Some also speak of being subjected to sexual and physical abuse at these schools."

"We are adding our voice to those of the Catholic bishops and leaders of religious communities across Canada who have already expressed words of apology and regret. We, the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and Northwest Territories, apologize to those who experienced sexual and physical abuse in Residential Schools under Catholic administration. We also express our apology and regret for Catholic participation in government policies that resulted in children being separated from their families, and often suppressed Aboriginal culture and language at the Residential Schools."

"The upcoming TRC Alberta event presents an opportunity for us to listen to the experiences of the Aboriginal students who attended the Residential Schools. This is an important and necessary first step on a long-term journey of moving towards healing and authentic reconciliation."

Read the full text of the Bishops' letter

La lettre en francais