Over four days at the final national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Edmonton, Catholics heard firsthand about the suffering endured by students who attended church-run Indian Residential Schools, and the continuing harm to subsequent generations. It was not easy. Many tear-soaked tissues were burned away in the Sacred Fire outside the Shaw Conference Centre. At times, the hurt exploded into expressions of anger and frustration. Catholic clergy, religious sisters, and lay volunteers from across the Archdiocese and beyond were there to listen, to witness, to apologize and to assist. Participants were invited to take prayer shawls knitted by CWL members and accompanied by the message, “May we make new paths of healing and wholeness together. We are here. We will listen.” 

Catholic archivists helped hundreds of participants get photographs of themselves or their relatives from the residential school days; for many, the archives tables were places of reunion for families and friends. There were also formal gestures of reconciliation by Catholics,each expressing sorrow as well as hope for real reconciliation, healing and friendship between Indigenous Peoples and other Canadians in the future. Each was placed in a special bentwood box created for this purpose. These included:

Catholic Bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories

  • delivered by Most Rev. Richard Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Lacombe Province

  • delivered by Rev. Ken Forster, Provincial of OMI Lacombe Canada

Canadian Council of Churches

  • delivered by Salvation Army Lt. Colonel Jim Champ, President of the Canadian Council of Churches, and other members of the executive, on behalf of 25 member churches. Among the co-signers was Most Rev. Paul‐André Durocher, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops