Sask. bishops begin fundraising campaign for residential school survivors

Saskatchewan bishops are releasing more details about a province-wide fundraising campaign for residential school survivors.

The fund was first announced earlier this month following a renewed call by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations for the Catholic Church to honour a 2006 commitment to raise $25 million in compensation for its role in Canada's residential school system.

A website provides details about how to donate to the campaign. The bishops are working with survivors, elders and Indigenous leaders to determine fundraising priorities, according to a statement.

The priorities include healing and reconciliation, cemeteries on the sites of former residential schools as well as education and cultural support.

“The overall goal of this campaign is to support Residential School survivors and their communities, and to engage more deeply in our own ongoing commitment and response to the Truth and Reconciliation process,” five bishops wrote in an update to Catholics and the wider community on Tuesday.

The update was signed by Archbishop Donald Bolen of the Archdiocese of Regina, Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukranian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon, Archbishop Murray Chatlain of the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and Bishop Stephen Hero of the Diocese of Prince Albert.

The campaign comes after hundreds of unmarked graves were found on the grounds of former residential school sites across Canada, including on Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan.

In a video posted to the campaign site, Archbishop Donald Bolen of the Archdiocese of Regina said he recognizes the long-lasting impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples and the pain brought on by the discovery of unmarked graves at those sites.

"In recent weeks, we have heard a strong request for the Catholic Church to take ownership for its involvement in the schools, for wounds that have their origin there, that continue on in inter-generational trauma and in systemic injustice. It is our profound desire to do so, continuing past efforts and undertaking new initiatives of commitment and solidarity,” Bolen said.

The bishops said more details including the fundraising goal and time frame will be announced by September.