The local Indigenous Reconciliation Fund Committee is pleased to announce they are now starting their second year of grant funding. They are eager to encourage projects from Indigenous groups anywhere on Vancouver Island and the surrounding Islands that foster good medicine for people harmed by the legacy of residential schools.
The Committee was formed in 2022 to identify priority, meaningful reconciliation work in our Diocese. The current members of the Committee are: Shirley Alphonse, of the Cowichan Nation and living on the T'Sou-ke territory; Briana Bear, of Songhees and Kwakwa̱ ka̱ ʼwakw family; Carmen George, from Penelakut; Fr. Dean Henderson, Pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Langford; Bertha Landrie, a Métis woman living in Victoria; and James Swan, hereditary Chief of Manhousaht.
Over the 2022/2023 year, the Committee reviewed numerous applications and selected the local projects to be funded by the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, a registered charity which accepts donations from Catholic entities across Canada to advance healing and reconciliation initiatives. They granted $300,000 in all to ten recipients:
- Ahousaht First Nation – to hold cultural gatherings in Nanaimo
- ey stelnex Indigenous Outreach Workers Network – to offer cultural support for homeless Indigenous people in Victoria
- The Literacy Circle – to expand its literacy programs for Indigenous people to additional Vancouver Island communities
- Métis Nation Powell River – to hold events for members of the Nation
- Michif Language Revitalization Circle – to host public events in Victoria promoting their programs
- Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation – to support the continuing restoration of St. Pius X Church in Yuquot
- The Oasis Society – to hire a program coordinator to support the participation of Elders in Victoria in their programming
- Peers Victoria / QuoQem – to support a drop-in centre in Victoria that offers cultural programming
- Snuneymuxw First Nation – to allow 13 of its members to participate in the Roots to Thrive therapy program in Nanaimo
- Victoria Native Friendship Centre – to support the Elders who assist in their programming
In total, the Diocese of Victoria has donated $1.25 million to the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, which was raised by selling a property the Diocese had been holding for the possible future construction of a Bishop's residence. The local Committee will continue to review and select projects for funding until the full $1.25 million has been dispersed.
This year's application deadlines are November 15, 2023, February 15, 2024, and May 15, 2024. For more information and to download the application package, please visit https://www.rcdvictoria.org/irf.