Vancouver chancellor named to bishops’ new reconciliation charity – BC Catholic

The chancellor of the Archdiocese of Vancouver has been chosen as a board member of the Canadian bishops’ new charity to promote Indigenous healing and reconciliation initiatives.

Barbara Dowding is one of three board members of the registered charity that will manage the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, which will accept contributions from 73 dioceses across Canada to fulfill a $ 30-million financial commitment made by Canada’s bishops in September.

Archdiocese of Vancouver Chancellor Barbara Dowding is a board member of the Canadian bishops’ new charity to promote Indigenous healing and reconciliation initiatives. (BC Catholic)

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said the board directors and members “will collectively bring a strong financial acumen and deep commitment to the healing and reconciliation journey.”

The promise to raise $ 30 million for reconciliation came after a summer of unmarked graves being discovered at former Indian residential schools, many of which were run by the Catholic Church or Catholic orders.

Administrative costs for the fund will be on top of the $ 30 million being raised and will not be deducted from the principal amount, the bishops said in a press release.

“The bishops of Canada are fully committed to addressing the historical and ongoing trauma caused by the residential school system,” said Bishop Raymond Poisson, president of the CCCB. “In moving forward with our collective financial commitment, we will continue to be guided by the experience and wisdom of Indigenous peoples across the country.”

The fund will be managed with measures put in place to ensure transparency and good governance, the bishops said. It will prioritize healing and reconciliation for communities and families, culture and language revitalization, education and community building and dialogue for promoting Indigenous spirituality and culture.

The directors of the board include:


  • Chief Wilton Littlechild, Ph.D. a Cree chief, residential school survivor, and lawyer who served as a Commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Chief Littlechild has been a Member of Parliament, Vice-President of the Indigenous Parliament of the Americas, North American Representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and a Chairperson for the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Commission on First Nations and Métis Peoples and Justice Reform.

  • Giselle Marion, who holds a law degree from the University of British Columbia and was called to the Bar in the Northwest Territories in 2008. During her articles Ms. Marion worked for the Department of Justice. She is a Tłı̨ chǫ Citizen and was born and raised in Behchokǫ̀, NT. She is the Director of Client Services with the Tłı̨chǫ Government out of the Behchokǫ̀ office.

  • Rosella Kinoshameg, an Odawa / Ojibway woman from the Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation Territory. She is a Registered Nurse with over 50 years of nursing experience, mostly working with First Nations communities doing community health, maternal child health, immunizations, home and community Care. She was one of the original members of the CCCB’s Indigenous Council and continues to serve as a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Circle.

The members of the corporation include:


  • Natale Galloa former Supreme Director of the Knights of Columbus, where he represented Canada on the International Board of Directors.

  • Claude BédardNational President of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul in Canada.

  • Barbara Dowdingformer National President of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada and chancellor of the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund will publish annual reports and will be subject to an audit by an independent accounting firm each year.

Indigenous partners will provide input on how the funds will be spent on four priorities:

  • Healing and reconciliation for communities and families;
  • Culture and language revitalization;
  • Education and community building; spirit
  • Dialogues for promoting indigenous spirituality and culture.

Regional and / or diocesan granting committees with Indigenous and Catholic members will be established across the country to identify projects that further the fund’s priorities, review applications, and request funds to support such projects. The bishops are recommending the committees be chaired by local Indigenous partners.

The establishment of the new national framework builds on existing voluntary fundraising efforts already underway by local Catholic entities, including the Archdioceses of Winnipeg and St. Boniface, the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan, and the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

The bishops said they recognize there has been considerable disappointment with a previous Catholic fundraising campaign tied to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). “While the CCCB was not party to the agreement, the bishops have recognized the shortcomings of that campaign and learned critically important lessons to ensure that the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund is fully funded and well managed with appropriate oversight,” said the press release.

Additional information on the “best efforts” campaign led by the Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential School Settlement can be found at: https://www.cccb.ca/indigenous-peoples/indian-residential-schools-and-trc/ .

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