“The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities. Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
September 30-October 1, 2023
The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund has been established by Canada’s Catholic Bishops to support healing and reconciliation initiatives. The 73 dioceses in Canada have been asked to contribute a total of $30 million to this fund over five years.
The second annual collection takes place in our diocese Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2023. Envelopes have been made available to parishes, and online giving is available through our website. Contributions to the fund are an important way we can help with healing and learning: acknowledging our responsibility and investing in a new chapter of faith, knowledge and walking together with Christ.
Money contributed by our diocese will be returned to our diocese through funding for programs, events, and projects to support healing in our local indigenous communities and cultural awareness, appreciation and action in our parishes and communities at large. An application process is currently being developed.
“We want to walk together, to pray together and to work together, so that the sufferings of the past can lead to a future of justice, healing and reconciliation.”
– Pope Francis, in his apology to the Indigenous People of Canada, July 2022
During his 2022 penitential pilgrimage, Pope Francis gave a heartfelt and solemn apology to Indigenous Peoples on behalf of the Catholic Church and called on us to continue to assist survivors and families in healing from the traumas they have suffered.
The Diocese of Antigonish promises to:
1. Engage our indigenous elders, chiefs and faithful in learning history and culture through their lenses, to reframe our inherent colonial view
2. Host opportunities for us to learn from our indigenous faithful sharing their stories
3. Support spiritually and financially the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund and promote opportunities for local projects
4. Examine our liturgical and administrative practices for ways to include and honour local indigenous cultures in everyday life
While we don’t yet know what this will look like, we welcome the exploration. Reconciliation is a journey that involves all of us, and Pope Francis’ penitential pilgrimage has been a source of hope and inspiration for Canadians across our country. We are blessed to have been part of this penitential pilgrimage and it is with renewed hope that we walk together towards a better future.
-Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick
News and Events
Mi’kmaw History Month
The first Mi’kmaw History Month in Nova Scotia was proclaimed in 1993 by Premier John Savage and Mi’kmaq Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy.
This year, the 30th anniversary of October as Mi’kmaw History Month, the theme is Mi’kmaw sports, traditional games, and pasttimes.
“Sports, games and pastimes have been a tool to develop young minds. These teachings carry us into ways of thinking, moving and being as adults.”
For details on this year’s poster and events:
From the Catholic Health Alliance of Canada:
“As we continue our journey as Catholic health care organizations to create culturally safe places of hope and healing, we embrace the call to recognize and value traditional healing practices (Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action #22).”
To learn more:
First Nations perspective of wellness
Source: First Nations Health Authority
Indigenous approaches to traditional medicine
Source: First Nations Health Authority
Indigenous health and professional organizations
Source: Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University
Research into Indigenous Healing Practices
Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
March 30, 2023
Statements released on Doctrine of Discovery
On March 30, 2023, the Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development issued a joint statement on the “Doctrine of Discovery”. Within the joint statement, it is stated “the Church’s magisterium upholds the respect due to every human being. The Catholic Church therefore repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of indigenous peoples, including what has become known as the legal and political ‘doctrine of discovery’”. The joint statement in its entirety may be found on the Vatican website:
The Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement that has been posted on the CCCB website.
February 8, 2023
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued the following pastoral letters on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Intended as a framework for local engagement with Indigenous Peoples, the letters are the fruit of many months of listening, encounter, and dialogue with them, including through Listening Circles, the Indigenous Delegation to the Vatican in April 2022, and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Voyage to Canada in July of the same year.
November 24, 2022
“We are each one feather”
Our diocesan staff hosted Manson Gloade for a daylong session on treaties, politics and growing up Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia. Manson grew up in the Mi’kmaw community of Millbrook, Nova Scotia and worked for the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs for 36 years. Now retired, Manson lives in Amherst with his wife, Beverley, and serves on the Indigenous Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.The afternoon discussion was joined by Deacon Tom Sylliboy, from the Eskasoni Mi’kmaw nation and the only ordained Mi’kmaw Roman Catholic clergy.
July 25, 2022
Pope Francis offered an apology to indigenous peoples of Canada
for the role of the church in residential schools
“To remember the devastating experiences that took place in the residential schools hurts, angers, causes pain, and yet it is necessary.
It is necessary to remember how the policies of assimilation and enfranchisement, which also included the residential school system, were devastating for the people of these lands…
What our Christian faith tells us is that this was a disastrous error, incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is painful to think of how the firm soil of values, language and culture that made up the authentic identity of your peoples was eroded, and that you have continued to pay the price of this. ..
I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the indigenous peoples. …
It is my hope that concrete ways can be found to make those peoples better known and esteemed, so that all may learn to walk together. For my part, I will continue to encourage the efforts of all Catholics to support the indigenous peoples.
About Truth and Reconciliation in our Diocese
This page is part of an evolving diocesan plan to engage in and support individual and collective healing. The page will remain a permanent part of our diocesan website, a reminder that Truth and Reconciliation is not a single day but every day.
We remain grateful to the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs, which in response to ‘what can we do’ in the wake of the Kamloops discovery in June 2021 produced an infographic of suggested actions for non-indigenous citizens wanting to engage in meaningful action for reconciliation and healing.
Our plan reflects those suggestions.
Activities, links, and resources are listed below.
These suggestions are first steps, and will be updated and enhanced as our knowledge and engagement grows.
Suggested Action: ‘Be Opened’
“To remember: brothers and sisters, you have lived on these lands for thousands of years, following ways of life that respect the earth which you received as a legacy from past generations and are keeping for those yet to come. You have treated it as a gift of the Creator to be shared with others and to be cherished in harmony with all that exists, in profound fellowship with all living beings…
“It is painful to think of how the firm soil of values, language and culture that made up the authentic identity of your peoples was eroded, and that you have continued to pay the price of this…
“I trust and pray that Christians and civil society in this land may grow in the ability to accept and respect the identity and the experience of the indigenous peoples…
“We are speaking of processes that must penetrate hearts.”
– Pope Francis
From Bishop Wayne Kirkpatrick
(Pastoral letter Sept. 8, 2021)
“We must determine what we can do to promote “Truth and Reconciliation” not only on one day, but throughout the year. We are inspired by the gospel to do our best to see the whole picture, hear the entire story and speak the complete truth, no matter how difficult, challenging or disconcerting it may be. Jesus challenges us to open our senses and do what is necessary to assist; in short to offer hope. Be opened.”
(Source: Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon)
O God, we praise and thank you for the blessings of life in Canada, from your natural
bounty and from the work of human hands.
We ask you to open our ears to the truths about our collective history shared with the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission by survivors of residential schools.
We ask you to open our minds to the complex and subtle ways that past mistakes,
arrogance, misuse of authority and sinfulness have damaged our social fabric in ways
we have barely begun to redress.
We ask you to open our hearts that we may continue to listen even when the truth
challenges us; that we may understand that we are heirs to a system that has shown
itself capable of domination and cruelty, whether or not we personally contributed; that
we may commit ourselves in all humility to do what we can and support the efforts of
others to restore our ruptured social fabric.
Suggested Action: Observe
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Treaty Day and start of Mi’kmaw History Month
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples
Feast of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Protectress of Canada
Feast of St. Anne, patron of the Mi’kmaq and secondary patron of our diocese
celebrated during the annual Sante’ Mawio’mi – Chapel Island Mission held in our diocese each summer
This historic gathering of Mi’kmaq Chiefs and faithful and veneration of St. Anne is the longest running mission of its kind in Canada.
Suggested Action: Learn
The Newman Society in our diocese has hosted two virtual sessions:
March 10, 2022: The Legacy of the Indian Residential School System
March 12, 2022: Recognizing Truths and Decolonizing Practices with indigenous elders Dr. Marie Battiste and Dr. Albert Marshall
Register and complete a free online course on Indigenous Studies and Reconciliation
Suggested Action: Read
Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action
The final report and related reports are available free of charge on the website of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation:
St. Kateri Tekakwitha:Known as the “Lily of the Mohawks”, Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Ossernenon (today Auriesville, New York) to a Catholic Algonquin mother and a Mohawk Chief. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012, in Rome. She became “the first native North American to be raised to the glory of the altars”.Read her story:https://www.cccb.ca/indigenous-peoples/prayer-and-spirituality/saint-kateri-tekakwitha/
and learn more of The Canadian Catholic Indigenous Council and initiatives of the Canadian Bishops:
Suggested Action: Visit
Membertou Heritage Park in person or online:
Membertou Heritage Park showcases the history and culture of the indigenous community of our pastoral centre, and Mi’kmaw nation that includes our diocese.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Chapel
St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish
Mary Queen of the World, Wagmatcook
Holy Trinity, Waycobah