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Click on the image to view PDF.October 4, 2019 — “Indigenous Peoples around the world have sought recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources; yet throughout history, their rights have been  violated. Indigenous Peoples are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world today,” says the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Society of Jesus first recognized the appalling conditions of Indigenous Peoples in 1995 and called on “the whole Society to renew its long-standing commitment to these peoples”. Promotio Iustititiae (PJ), a journal published by the Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology of the General Curia of the Society of Jesus in Rome, published a series of perspectives on the theme of Indigenous Peoples in 2010.

The journal has just published a new issue on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights and Integral Ecology, which takes into account the Synod in the Amazon. In the editorial, Xavier Jeyaraj, SJ, explains that “the Jesuits of five Conferences, who have accompanied Indigenous Peoples for many years, have reflected on their rights and on integrated ecology from the point of view of justice and reconciliation.”

The authors take us from Peru to Alaska, from India to Congo, as well as to Canada.

Jesuits of Canada: Our Apostolates among Indigenous Peoples Today, by Gerald McDougall, SJ, sheds light on the context of revitalizing Indigenous culture in Canada, but also highlights the many challenges still facing Indigenous Peoples, who face them with tremendous resilience.

In response to the Calls to Action of the TRC and to assist in the formation of non-Indigenous priests  and  Church  ministers,  the  Jesuits  have  commissioned  two  Indigenous culture immersion programs for Jesuits in formation: in Regina, Saskatchewan, and in Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation, Ontario. The Kateri Native Ministry of Ottawa, a work supported by the  Archdiocese  of  Ottawa,  presents  an  Indigenous  Ministry  program  annually  and  is  now  developing  an  Indigenous  cultural  immersion  program, also to help the formation of non-Indigenous ministers.

In the summer of 2017, another innovative work of reconciliation took place in Canada. The Canoe  Pilgrimage  from  Midland  to  Montreal,  led  by  one  of  the  youngest  Canadian Jesuit  scholastics, revisited the journey made by Jesuits of old and their First Nations companions in the  17th  century. For  the  Indigenous  and  non-Indigenous  pilgrims,  the  Canoe  Pilgrimage  unfolded as a model of the journey of reconciliation that the Catholic Church and Indigenous Peoples are undertaking

David McCallum, SJ et Peter Bisson, SJ, acknowledge in From Reconciliation to Decolonization: A Rough Guide the complex and often deeply destructive impact of Jesuit missions to Indigenous Peoples in the Americas and share their personal and institutional experiences with reconciliation.

[…] in  2015,  our  Jesuit  province  gathered  a  large  number  of  Jesuits  and  lay  apostolic leaders for a communal discernment exercise about our priorities. The first priority to  emerge,  the  Spiritual  Exercises,  came  as  no  surprise.  The  second  priority  however  was  a  surprise, Indigenous relations. This did not mean Indigenous ministry, which has always been important  in  Canada.  Instead  it  meant  that  all  our  apostolates,  no  matter  what  they  were,  should develop relations with Indigenous People and that this should be part of our way of proceeding  in  Canada.  This  grace  was  a  switch  from  ”helping”  Indigenous  Peoples  to  becoming  partners  in  building  the  Kingdom  of  God.  An  Indigenous Elder  who  was  part  of  the discernment exercise exclaimed, “Finally I feel like a friend!” And this was after 40 years of collaboration! – Peter Bisson

To read the magazine, click here.

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