Bishop Motiuk pointed out that the bilingual Ukrainian school program, which is part of the Catholic school system, has been cultivating an attitude of listening. In these schools, a path of mutual knowledge has been forged between the children of the native populations and Ukrainian children.
"The students told each other the stories of the Holodomor residential schools, the great famine."
The Holodomor – also known as the Terror-Famine – was perpetrated in Ukraine between 1932 and 1933. It killed between 2.5 and 7 million people.
The stories were told through "songs, presentations, carrying out a path to heal wounds, but through the eyes of children, to enhance the language, faith, traditions of each."
After all, the experience lived today in Ukraine is one some level similar to that of the indigenous people of Canada, said Bishop Motiuk, because "the indigenous people felt that their traditions would be uprooted, that they would become normal Canadians. And today, in Ukraine, we note that the Russian aggressor's approach is precisely to uproot a people. It's the same approach as the Europeans when they arrived in Canada. "
Instead, he concluded, we must "find the good and beautiful of each one's gifts."
Canadian relations with indigenous people
This path of understanding is reinforced by 11 treaties between the Canadian government and the First Nations between 1871 and 1921, establishing that collaboration would be the cornerstone of the relationship between the British Crown (which then ruled Canada) and the Aborigines and to reconcile Aboriginal sovereignty with that assumed by the Crown.
According to Archbishop Lawrence Huculak of the Greek Catholic Metropolis of Winnipeg, "the Bishops of the U.S.A are observing very carefully what we are doing in Canada, and they want to do something similar. There are steps forward, and it will be to see what achievements there will be, but it is certainly a different path because there are other situations. And we are aware that our approach cannot be similar to the European mentality. There are no final answers yet."
Archbishop Huculak also pointed out that "the First Nations have a lot to tell us about working with nature, working the land, we know they work with the land and have a positive relationship. However, when the Ukrainians have been assimilated, we, too, are struggling with the loss of our identity, and we try to keep ourselves, and we know we have the same struggle, we have to do something, and we have to look at the same strength."
Developing dialogue between communities
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The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Metropolis of Winnipeg also collaborated with the Commission for Ecumenical Dialogue of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which explored the future of the dialogue between faiths.
Archbishop Huculak explained that "many of the indigenous people have become Christians and members of the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox Church."
At the same time, many other indigenous people "have kept their traditional elements, and it has been a struggle to help understand their demands. Because if you want to have a dialogue with the Orthodox Church, or the Anglican Church, you check the documents they have produced on the issues and start from there to find elements in common. It is not the same for the natives, who have no documents. Rather, they have a strong tradition, rooted and handed down from generation to generation."
For this reason, for the Catholic Church, it is necessary "to understand what kind of dialogue to do on faith issues, how they understand God, how they understand creation, and it is a challenge for the Church to move forward. Pope Francis has opened this type of dialogue and established a model, but it is something that we must carry on."