LIRR Digest: January 14, 2015

Hello friends,

I’ve had my battle with flu this week,  and I hope this finds you in better shape than me J.  It was good to see a few of you in the network last week in Toronto.

On January 14, I was glad I had and took the opportunity to attend “Keepers of the Water: A Vigil of Lament and Celebration” at Holy Trinity in Toronto.  What a wonderful coming together (like the confluence of rivers) of drumming, song, story, prayer, blessing, and drinking from the common cup of water from Anglican and Indigenous tradition on the Baptism of Jesus Day, whose body was comprised mostly of water from and immersed in the Jordan River watershed.  Jennifer Henry’s reflection “The Water that Connects All Life” was most inspiring.   If you haven’t considered using the workshop resource “Discipleship in the Watershed” yet,  it is a great way to explore those issues facing your watershed and your mostly-water body.

White Turtle Woman (Cathy Gerrior), offers some “thoughts on Native Protocol so more people understand better how to plan and carry out meetings and exchanges between Natives and non-Natives.  She is not trying to speak for all native people, and is not addressing ceremonial activities.  These reflections are based on her own experiences of living in a society that “doesn’t always understand or appreciate [her] nativeness” and include her work at the UC Tatamagouche Centre.  Ms. Gerrior wrote this article in “recognition of the fact that many if not most non-native people are unaware of some our basic beliefs and our way of being with people, for many different reasons.”  So have a read, and think about how a review of these reflections might help your non-native church group engage with native persons with more understanding and respect, especially during those initial encounters.  I would appreciate hearing any feedback as to what particularly resonates with your experience, or what you think may be missing.

Two Maclean’s Magazine articles “Canada’s Race Problem: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”  and “Welcome to Winnipeg Where Canada’s Racism Problem is at its Worst”  have provoked much discussion.

See , and

Winnipeg’s Metis Mayor Brian Bowman and Grand Chief Derek Nepinak and other leaders vowed to face racism head-on.

Let us have the courage to face racism towards indigenous people wherever we see and hear it, and make meaningful changes in the way we relate to one another.

In Ottawa, the action begins Friday afternoon, May 29 with KAIROS’ Intergenerational Gathering, which continues on Saturday, May 30 at Carleton University.

The Walk for Reconciliation, expected to draw thousands, is scheduled to begin Sunday morning, May 31 in the Victoria Island area.  This day may also include an ecumenical worship service organized by local churches.

Monday, June 1 features educational events hosted by KAIROS and the TRC.

The TRC Final Report will be presented on Tuesday, June 2 and the proceedings livestreamed.  There will be a by-invitation ceremonial closing of the TRC on Wednesday, June 3 (also livestreamed) followed by an open community feast at Rideau Hall grounds.
Accommodations are limited and going fast so book your hotel now. In March, KAIROS will make available some shared accommodations at Carlton University.

KAIROS is working with communities across the country in the lead up to May 31 to offer the Blanket Exercise, the participatory teaching tool that enhances awareness and understanding of the history of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. KAIROS will also be providing resources to support worship services and other events on May 31 in your community. Groups may already be planning walks or feasts with Indigenous and non-Indigenous neighbours. Why not plan to gather ecumenically to listen to the Commissioners’ recommendations.  Whatever you are doing, please contact Shannon Neufeldt to let her know what’s happening, so she can add your local gathering to the list of Ottawa events on the KAIROS website.
For more details and to keep abreast of what events are scheduled across the country,  check out

Dr. James Anaya, Special UN Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights 2008-2014, who wrote a significant report on the treatment of indigenous peoples in Canada in 2014, holds the Visiting Lecturership in Human Rights at the University of Alberta on March 12, 2015  He will also be at other events in Edmonton that week.  Watch for him!

For the full report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in BC, Canada” calling for a public inquiry or a national action plan. and an article

Vancouver internment activist weighs in on aboriginal reconciliation movement
It will take another decade before the atrocities suffered by aboriginal people in residential schools become visible in the language of Canadian history, says Roy Miki, one of the seminal leaders of the 1980s movement to seek redress for the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

 The problems that arise when cemeteries are not cemeteries under the law
The recent conflict over development on Grace Islet in the Gulf Islands, where ancient human remains and 15 rock cairns have been found, has sparked a debate about how British Columbia protects monuments to the dead when they are found outside of a registered cemetery.

 Some residential school cemeteries are also in private hands, since the Cemeteries Acts in provinces came into being after the school closed, the property sold and title transferred.  The United Church has been working with First Nations to deal with some of the issues that have arisen in some of these situations e.g. Red Deer, and Regina.

A December court ruling extended the deadline to March 9, 2015 (from October 2014) for survivors to apply for personal education credits worth up to $3000 available under the Settlement Agreement.  The credits can be transferred to a relative.  The educational courses must be completed by the end of August 2015.

 Sir John A. Macdonald’s 200th birthday cause for reflection, not celebration for First Nations
As the federal government commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth in January of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first prime minister of Canada, First Nation leaders from Ontario are asking the public to educate themselves about his devastating policies against Indigenous people that have impacted generations to this day under the Harper government.  “We must remember that Canada is founded upon ethnic cleansing and genocide orchestrated by a government that ordered the expansion of the country with little regard to the lives of the Indigenous people already living here,” said Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy. “History books and public education on this dark part of our collective history must be taught in our schools and we reject the propaganda being forced upon the general public. The federal government has not participated in commemoration of Treaty anniversaries.”

 “If people really knew the history of Sir John A. Macdonald, I’m not sure if they would celebrate his legacy,” Alvin Fiddler, Deputy Grand Chief of Nishnawbe Aski Nation, told QMI Agency. Nishnawbe Aski Nation represents 49 First Nation communities in Ontario.

May the Light of the World shine in the darkness, and justice roll down like waters,

Cecile Fausak
Liaison Minister: Residential Schools
General Council Office: Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools
780-676-0562 (office cell)
780-675-7753 (Athabasca, AB home office)



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