Today is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Across the country, as young people grow out of the blanket that covered our eyes from Canada’s traumatic past and present, there’s a wrestling with the idea of how we can help. What do we do? What power do we have? And how do we solve these issues without asking Indigenous people to take on the emotional work of holding our hand and guiding us through it, when they have their own healing work to do? The paradigm shifts we each take on as we move through our healing work isn’t unique to an individual.

One of the things to come into creation as a result of the news about residential schools and the increasing numbers of children found is dialogue. The Coalition of Catholics for the Betterment of Indigenous Peoples, or COACAB, is one of the groups to have emerged that are focused on taking on these discussions. The coalition has been focusing on doing community check ins and community organizing to try and understand how lay people and youth can work together to uplift and support Indigenous communities.

The first act of the coalition was to write an open letter to the Catholic Church, which you can read below. The goal of the letter was to call in the non-Indigenous Catholic community in a way that acknowledges the wrongs of the Catholic Church, at a time where no formal apology was being issued. There has finally been an apology from the Canadian Catholic bishops regarding the ongoing abuses caused by the the Catholic Church in residential schools, but this is only the start.

So much more to be done. COACAB continues to have frequent discussions and community check ins as we hold each other accountable and in love so that they can work on the inner decolonization work that needs to take place, as well as the organizational work that needs to be done in order to ensure systemic change.

As COACAB continues to understand their goals as a coalition, there is a desire to make this letter known globally. Not only does COACAB want Canadian Catholic bishops to acknowledge the wrongs, but the Pope as well. The coalition also wants to encourage churches and faith organizations to implement programming to remain accountable and to continue learning about Indigenous issues.

SCM supports this work and will continue to participate in these types of conversations. We hope that everyone is able to hold themselves and each other during this time of reflection and pain.