The Healing Fund was originally established by General Council in 1994 as a five-year fund-raising and educational campaign (1995-1999) to address the impacts of residential schools on Aboriginal people. It now continues as one facet of the United Church's ongoing reconciliation work with Aboriginal people.
Many Aboriginal communities today are dealing with the long-term effects of residential schools. The schools contributed to the loss of language, culture and parenting skills in many Aboriginal communities as children over several generations were removed from their homes and sent to distant schools. In some cases, tragically, the schools were sites of physical and sexual abuse. For many Aboriginal people, the experience of the schools caused deep hurt.
Now, those wounds are healing, and First Nations are asking the church to be part of the healing process. The United Church administered some of these schools on behalf of the federal government. The church is thus part of the legacy of pain, and now seeks to be an active part of the process of healing in Aboriginal communities.
The Healing Fund was established as one important way for the church to live out its 1986 Apology to First Nations. The fund is being used to support many innovative and effective programs in Aboriginal communities which are helping people in the healing process.
The United Church's Healing Fund has now surpassed its original goal to raise $1,000,000 for Aboriginal communities' healing projects. Conferences, congregations, individuals and groups such as the United Church Women have raised more than $1,200,000 so far.