In Canada, anticipation has been building in the lead-up to the visit of a delegation of Indigenous elders, youth, and residential school survivors to the Vatican in Spring 2022.
The visit comes on the heels of the announcement in 2021 that the remains of 215 children in unmarked graves had been discovered on the site of a former residential school near Kamloops, British Columbia.
In this episode of Crown and Crozier, we explore the issue of residential schools through the lens of a unique personal story.
Father Cristino Bouvette’s grandmother was a member of the Cree First Nation. Despite being forced away from home to attend a residential school in Alberta, his grandmother - or “kokum” - held onto her Christian faith until she died shortly before her 100th birthday.
Our conversation with Father Bouvette examines the witness of his kokum, the blend of Christian identity and Indigenous heritage in his family, what authentic reconciliation looks like, and the incredible healing power of forgiveness.
Father Bouvette serves as the Vicar of Vocations and Young Adults in the Diocese of Calgary, as well as the Chaplain for the Diocese’s youth ministry, the St. Francis Xavier Council.
(Note - for background information on the Indian residential school system in Canada, see the link below to the website of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops).
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Father Cristino Bouvette (biography)
Father Cristino Bouvette, “Reality in Truth and Reconciliation”, Convivium (June 16, 2021)
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Brief History of Indian Residential Schools”
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Canadian Bishops and Indigenous Delegates Depart on Historic Trip to the Holy See” (March 24, 2022)
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Statement of Apology by the Catholic Bishops of Canada to the Indigenous Peoples of This Land” (September 24, 2021)
Raymond de Souza, "Historically inaccurate to suggest Catholic Church hasn’t apologized for residential schools", National Post (June 2021)
Diocese of Prince George (British Columbia), Rose Prince Pilgrimage
Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement