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An invitation to learn about history through Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc and Catholic Church’s Sacred Covenant

Posted on: June 21, 2024

On this National Indigenous Day 2024 and during Indigenous History Month, Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc, the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Diocese of Kamloops, chose this date to share with you the Sacred Covenant they signed on Easter Sunday. The bilingual document is written in English and Chinook. Chinook was chosen as it is a trade language that was spoken from Northern California to Alaska and promoted by Fr. Jean-Marie Raphael Le Jeune, OMI and Tk̓emlúps and other Elders. Chinook became an important common language among First People and settlers arriving from many countries.

Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir stated that with the goal of fostering healing and reconciliation and countering targeted skepticism and denial, Tk̓emlúps chose to work with Catholics and allow Church leaders to publicly acknowledge past wrongs, particularly arising from the Catholic Church’s role in administering many of the Residential Schools. Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc remains steadfast in their sacred duty as guardians to and advocates for the children who died and were harmed while they were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. With dedicated staff focused on the multidisciplinary investigation as well as construction of a Healing House for Survivors, Kúkpi7 Rosanne is committed to ensuring Survivors and Intergenerational Survivors are supported on their healing path.

Archbishop Michael Miller, CSB, of Vancouver and Bishop Joseph Ngyuen of Kamloops, entered into a Sacred Covenant that conveys a deep commitment to truth and a desire to accompany the Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc people on their journey. Archbishop Miller stated that Catholics should strive to understand the real and continued hardships faced by Indigenous people. As Canada was being colonized, there is no doubt that the First People lost land and livelihood and experienced systems that gravely damaged their family cohesion, language and customs. Acknowledging the deep hurt caused by government officials, corporate representatives and faith leaders is a critical first step towards building a mutually beneficial relationship that leads to lasting healing and reconciliation.

Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir, Archbishop Miller and Bishop Ngyuen encourage all Canadians to work towards deepening relationships between communities and finding ways to help Indigenous individuals and families negatively impacted by destructive policies, both current and historical. The Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc and Catholics in the region look forward to continuing the meaningful steps of walking together.