Improving life for indigenous people is everyone’s responsibility – by John Ibbitson (Globe and Mail – April 19, 2016)

As the Catholic Church has shamefully demonstrated yet again, the one word no one uses when confronting indigenous issues is “responsibility.”

Responsibility is something the courts may or may not impose. Outside the courtroom, you rarely hear the word mentioned in the vestry or the deputy minister’s office or at the band council meeting or in homes on or off reserve, unless “someone else’s” precedes it.

The Trudeau government is determined to break the cycle of indigenous poverty, isolation and – too often – abuse. Money will help. But collectively accepting responsibility, embracing it, is the real challenge. For success, “someone else’s” must be banished from the vocabulary.

As Gloria Galloway reports, legal bungling by the federal government allowed the Catholic Church to wriggle out of its obligation to raise and then deliver $25-million for healing programs to aid survivors of abuse at residential schools.

The Catholic Church has always been reluctant to acknowledge its responsibility for what went on at those schools. But what leaps out for this reader is the church’s admission that its fundraising efforts were “a fiasco.”

Neither corporate nor private donors were interested in writing cheques to help residential school survivors. Yes, the church could and should have found the money from within its own resources. But the broader community is also complicit in this latest failure to fulfill a promise, as we have been so often in the past.

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