Representing Canada’s Catholic Bishops, Bishop Paul-Andre’ Durocher of the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall offered a message of solidarity and hope to Canada’s First Nations at the National Day of Reconciliation on June 11, 2009.
(PHOTO: Assembly of First Nations CEO Bob Watts receives gifts from Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher during gift exchange among spiritual, political and First Nations leaders.)*
Referring to what Pope Benedict said to the First Nations at a private meeting at the Vatican in April, Bishop Durocher said,“I believe that I echo the conviction of my fellow Canadian bishops when I tell you that we make the Pope’s words our own: we offer you the expression of our regret, the commitment of our solidarity, our dreams filled with hope.”
The day began with a sunrise ceremony on Victoria Island, and marked the first Anniversary of Canada’s apology to Canada’s First Nations for the governments treatment of our native people’s in Residential Schools. In this picture we see a Manitoulin Elder smoking a Pipe of Reconciliation in honor of the event and as a way of seeking, justice, peace, and forgiveness in our Land.
Phil Fontaine, the out going Chief of the First Nations said, “Our First Nations people have suffered too much…. What we have today is the result of years and years of neglect on the shoulders of successive governments…. First Nations’ poverty is the single most important social justice issue Canada faces.”
* Photo: CCN
** Photo: Pat McGrath