Along with all Canadians and Catholics across the country, we are devastated by the news of the discovery of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Residential School near Cowessess, Saskatchewan. This latest finding intensifies an even more aching wound that was torn open by the discovery of the remains of 215 children found at the former Kamloops Residential School less than one month ago.
No words can express our grief and outright horror that these tragedies were perpetrated against Indigenous peoples in Canada, and especially children.
We are even more distraught that these devastating acts that occurred at residential schools were committed by members of the Catholic Church. The heinous actions of those involved are grave violations of the faith and are against the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus who said:
"Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40)
In light of the traumatic disclosures of this past month, there have been voices advocating for boycotting Sunday Mass and involvement in the Catholic Church. At Salt + Light Media, we believe that much more meaningful and impactful measures need to be taken to bring healing between Indigenous peoples, the Church and our country. We are all in this together and so choose to be part of moving forward with the Indigenous peoples of Canada, many of whom are our brothers and sisters in faith.
We commit to listening to the Knowledge Keepers who can convey the agony, the suffering and the experiences of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. As a Catholic media ministry, we have a responsibility to offer sound, sensitive, attentive and respectful programming that communicates the truth of what happened and assist in the complicated process of opening a path forward. We want to seek a better understanding in order to be partners in the long process of justice, healing and reconciliation.
We know that there is much work to be done to take significant steps forward on the path of healing between the Catholic Church and Indigenous peoples in Canada—mindful of the extensive action that is needed between Indigenous Canadians and our entire country.
We want to be part of shining light in the darkness of the past, moving forward together toward the dawn of a brighter, just future rooted in freedom and peace.
Each one of us has a crucial role to play in writing the next chapter in the story of the relationship between Canada, the Church and our Indigenous brothers and sisters. We strongly encourage our fellow Catholics and Canadians to stand with the Indigenous peoples across our country. We likewise need clear, decisive and discerned action from our political and religious leaders in order to move forward.
Our action, or our inaction, speaks volumes and has very real consequences. As people of faith, let us join together in prayer, lifting up to God the innocent who perished, the suffering of their families and communities, and the wounds of injustice that scar our nation. As fellow citizens, let us find concrete ways of building bridges of solidarity, refusing to remain in a state of indifference or despair. Instead, let us reach out in humility and honesty with a respectful listening ear and a helping hand.
It is time to put our best foot forward to acknowledge yesterday, while insisting on right relationships at all levels for a unified tomorrow. It is time to be better human beings who care for one another.
May God, the Creator of all, console those who suffer and mourn and light a flame of hope in our heavy hearts.
Chief Delorme, the people of Cowessess First Nation and all Indigenous peoples please be assured of our prayers and our solidarity.
Yours in Christ
Alan Fogarty SJ
Chief Executive Officer