Catholic organizations congratulate former National Chief Phil Fontaine on Distinguished Canadian Leadership Award

OTTAWA, Nov. 3, 2011 /CNW/ - The group of Catholic organizations involved in Canada's Indian Residential Schools (IRS) system today congratulated Phil Fontaine, former Assembly of First Nations National Chief, on recently being named a 2011 recipient of the University of Ottawa's Distinguished Canadian Leadership Award.

Archbishop Gérard Pettipas, Chair of the Corporation of Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement (CCEPIRSS), said "we have worked with Phil Fontaine over many years and have great respect for his personal commitment to First Nation issues, including his dedication to healing the wounds left by Canada's Indian Residential Schools.  We can think of few other people who embody the values of this prestigious award."

The award recognizes service to the community at large, impact on the community, innovative approaches to national concerns, persistent effort, and contributions to the creation of a strong sense of Canadian community.

"Former National Chief Fontaine has sought to foster dialogue on healing and reconciliation with various religious communities that worked within the Indian Residential Schools system," said Archbishop Pettipas.  "We deeply appreciate his recognition that many priests, brothers and sisters gave generously of themselves in a flawed system in the sincere belief their contributions were in the best interest of IRS students, but have nevertheless been subject to unjust blanket condemnations."

"His leadership and forthright approach were demonstrated yet again last week as a participant in the IRS Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Atlantic national event in Halifax," continued Archbishop Pettipas. "We are proud to have the opportunity to continue working with him to ensure a healthier and more respectful future for Canada's First Nations."

CCEPIRSS was created in 2006, to oversee the undertakings of the group of 54 Catholic dioceses and religious congregations under the IRS settlement agreement.

SOURCE Corporation of Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement (CCEPIRSS)

For further information:

Media contact: Jean-Paul Brasseur, 613-830-4766, jp.brasseur@sympatico.ca

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Corporation of Catholic Entities Party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement (CCEPIRSS)

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