Sask. bishops say provincial fundraiser is in the works to help pay money owed for role in residential school system
The province's Catholic leadership says a fundraising plan is in the works following a renewed call by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) for the church to honour a 2006 commitment to raise $25 million in compensation for its role in Canada's residential school system.
“These wrongs were committed by the Catholic Church and our survivors deserve a proper apology and compensation for what was done to them; not broken promises," FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said last week,
In a joint letter issued to Saskatchewan's Catholic community over the weekend, the province's bishops said many in the community have expressed support for the idea of a rekindled fundraising effort.
"We are deeply grateful for the signs and indications of commitment we have been hearing, and have begun consultations this past week towards a province-wide fundraising effort, which we would each undertake in ways discerned in our respective dioceses," the letter said.
"To maximize the effectiveness of such an effort, it is important to plan well and to coordinate the efforts of various potential participants, and most importantly, to consult with Indigenous dialogue partners, including survivors, elders, knowledge keepers and chiefs. Those conversations are already underway and we hope to be able to announce a plan soon," the leaders wrote.
According to a previous news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, in addition to $29 million in direct compensation and $25 million of "in-kind" services those who signed the IRSSA committed to final fundraising appeal that was titled the “Moving Forward Together” campaign.
“That’s a good gesture but no amount of money will ever replace what we as First Nations people lost and that’s our children,” said FSIN First Vice-Chief Morley Watson.
This campaign was to also involve not only the 50 entities, but all dioceses in Canada, with a goal to raise $25 million. After two diocesan-wide collections were held, the diocese of Saskatoon contributed about $34,000 to this national effort, which ultimately fell short of the $25 million national goal.
The joint letter was signed by all five of the province's bishops including Archbishop Donald J. Bolen in Regina, Bishop Mark Hagemoen in Saskatoon and Bishop Stephen Hero in Prince Albert.