The Justice and Reconciliation Fund was established in 2000 by the Residential Schools Steering Committee of The United Church of Canada to assist the church to understand and respond to the legacy of harm and broken relationships that have resulted from the Indian Residential School system. The fund supports projects, initiated by Conferences, presbyteries, congregations, outreach/community ministries and education centres, that foster dialogue, reconciliation, and relationship-building between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Projects initiated outside the church but that meet the goals of the fund and involve church members as participants are also considered.

The fund considers projects or events that are educational and relationship-building initiatives created specifically to facilitate dialogue, understanding, and right relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples within the context of Indian Residential Schools and related Aboriginal justice and rights issues. Since its creation, the fund has supported projects across the country and disbursed over $755,000.

The Justice and Reconciliation Fund is distinct from the Healing Fund, which provides financial support to healing projects initiated in Aboriginal communities by and for former students and their families. Projects supported by the Justice and Reconciliation Fund usually do not qualify for Healing Fund support.

Sample Project Profile: Toronto Pine Tree Healing Circle Event

The journey to the “Restoring Right Relationships” event of the Toronto Pine Tree Healing Circle began when the minister of Trinity-St Paul's United Church approached the staff of the Toronto Urban Native Ministry to speak at the church. The theme centred on the "healing" needed for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples of Canada to walk together. This was especially relevant for the congregation of Trinity-St. Paul’s because it is situated in a large concentration of Native people in the surrounding neighbourhood.

The dialogue that ensued from that invitation culminated in a two-day healing circle (funded by the Justice and Reconciliation Fund) at the Six Nations reserve in Brantford. Aboriginal participants shared stories of the pain of attending and living the legacy of the residential schools, while non-Aboriginals experienced the shock and pain of learning that their country and their church had participated in such an abusive system. The circle created a space where many shared their commitment to exploring the tools of reconciliation and right relationships through continuing dialogue.

Other Approved Projects

  • Northern Lights (Trinity United Church in Smith Falls, Ontario)
    Through the invitation of the Cree community, the project used gospel music to connect with three Cree villages in Northern Quebec.
  • The Neighbours Project (Wabanaki Nations Cultural Centre, Burnt Church, New Brunswick, and Tatamagouche Centre, New Brunswick)
    This intercultural program is designed to promote a culture of justice, peace, and mutuality between First Nations and non-Aboriginal peoples in communities, organizations, and churches in the Maritimes. It includes education, youth exchanges, and skills development as concrete strategies in furthering its objectives.
  • Nurturing Deep Understanding and Hope: A Gathering: A Right Relationships Project (Vancouver Island, B.C.)
    A five-year educational and faith-based reflective action process undertaken by volunteers of some of the churches on Vancouver Island (Anglican, Catholic, and United) to lay a solid foundation upon which to build right relationships with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
  • Selkirk Presbytery Reconciliation Event (Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre, Manitoba)
    Cultural differences workshops as part of an ongoing study of the United Church’s involvement with Aboriginal peoples (with special attention to the Indian residential schools).

Funding Criteria and Procedures

The Justice and Reconciliation Fund supports projects by United Church groups that foster dialogue, reconciliation, and relationship-building between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Wherever possible, the planning and application process should also be a joint Aboriginal/non-Aboriginal endeavour.

Specifically, the Justice and Reconciliation Fund will support projects or events with one or more of the following goals:

  1. To promote understanding of the United Church's role in the Indian Residential School system and of the impact of this system on former students and their communities
  2. To foster direct community-to-community engagement or face-to-face encounters between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in the church or larger community
  3. To assist nation-to-nation events that support advocacy in solidarity with Aboriginal rights

The fund has an annual budget of $100,000, and usually does not grant more than $15,000 to any one project.

Who can apply for funding?

  • Congregations, presbyteries, Conferences, education and theological centres, and outreach/community ministries
  • Ecumenical initiatives where there is a commitment to cost-sharing
  • Groups outside the United Church will also be considered if funds permit

How and when are decisions taken?

The Review Committee is made up of one representative of the Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools and one representative of Aboriginal Ministries. Proposals are reviewed as they are received throughout the year and funded as funds permit.

Application Process

Applications may be submitted year-round. Please apply at least two months before your project begins. Your application must be accompanied by a budget statement showing expenses and other sources of revenue. Proposals that do not meet the criteria or applications that are not complete will not be approved. A final project report upon the completion of the project is required.

An application form to assist you in providing the information for your funding request is available below.

For additional information, or to apply, contact:

Cecile Fausak
Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator
The Justice and Reconciliation Fund
The United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4
Tel: 780-676-0562 (Alberta cell phone)
Toll-free: 1-800-268-3781 ext.2058
E-mail:  jrfund [at] united-church.ca