Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate reflect on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate join people across Turtle Island in observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and reflecting on the tragic and ongoing suffering brought about by Canada’s residential school system.
As Oblates, we recognize and repent for the central role our religious order played in the operation of this system, and the intergenerational suffering of so many Indigenous Peoples. Today, and every day, we commit ourselves to supporting and accompanying Indigenous Peoples on the long journey towards healing and reconciliation.
Over the last year, as part of this commitment, the Oblates have humbly undertaken renewed efforts to support Indigenous Peoples in discovering truth and seeking justice, including:
- Partnerships and collaboration with archives across Canada, including the Provincial Archives of Alberta, the Royal BC Museum and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), to make Oblate records as easily and widely available to Indigenous communities, researchers and journalists as is legislatively allowable;
- Welcomed archivists from the NCTR to the Oblate General Archives in Rome, granting full access to any materials that may relate to the residential school legacy;
- The continued transfer and digitization of all Oblate records related to residential schools, totaling over 65,000 records transferred;
- Advocated for Oblate priest Johannes Rivoire to participate in a legal trial in Canada, and actively supported the Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated’s trip to France to identify avenues for justice;
- Supported the Canadian Conference of Catholics Bishops’ efforts to see Pope Francis engage with Indigenous Peoples on Canadian soil and deliver an historic apology for the participation of the Catholic Church in the residential school system; and
- Provided access to the Oblate House in Rome for Indigenous delegates during their meetings with Pope Francis this March.
We strive to lead with integrity and intent on this journey, while knowing there is much more we must do. We cannot speak to the progress made in the last year to support discovering truth, seeking justice and the healing journeys of Survivors and families without addressing the re-traumatization many Indigenous Peoples have suffered from seeing stories of abuse in the national discourse by current or former Oblates. Clergy sexual abuse is a tragedy, and the Oblates have a moral, ethical and pastoral responsibility to do all we can to support those who have the courage to come forward.
As we continue to commit ourselves to Truth and Reconciliation, we understand that consultation with Indigenous Peoples on how we may best support those suffering must continue to be a top priority. We respectfully commit to continued consultation and engagement with Indigenous Nations, Peoples and communities, walking an ongoing path toward reconciliation.