Hello to friends in the United Church Living into Right Relations Network,
Since the TRC closing ceremonies and the TRC Calls to Action were issued, many have been asking questions of a concrete nature:
What is happening with General Council staffing related to reconciliation and indigenous justice?
What are the plans for moving the reconciliation agenda forward in the church, and in wider society?
Justice Sinclair, in delivering the TRC report, said “As commissioners, we have described for you a mountain. We have shown you the path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.” Let me assure you that the United Church will continue to be a determined climber, having stated our commitment at the Edmonton national TRC event March 2014, and in a joint church response to the TRC final report on June 2, 2015.
See www.united-church.ca for both statements.
- After 17 years as Special Advisor: Residential Schools, David MacDonald is retiring as of June 30, 2015. His immense contribution to guiding us on this journey since 1998 will be celebrated on June 23 in the General Council offices. If you wish to send greetings to him on the occasion, please forward them to me.
- After 12 years as General Council Officer: Residential Schools, Jamie Scott will be retiring as of August 31, 2015.
- Two permanent full-time positions with the title of Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator have been created. I will be retaining one of them, and the other job opening is posted at http://www.united-church.ca/getinvolved/jobs/15-09 . The deadline for application is June 22.
Upcoming Meetings, Plans
- Over a dozen staff from General Council Office attended all or part of the KAIROS Intergenerational Gathering “Time for Reconciliation” and the TRC closing activities in Ottawa May 29-June 3. We will be meeting shortly to gather our initial thoughts about what specific responses the whole church can make to the 94 TRC Calls to Action.
- A series of three webinars, each pertinent to one of the TRC Calls to Action, are on offer:
– Re Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – Already completed but the recording is available at http://edgenetwork.adobeconnect.com/p5l1e9od8ze/
– Re Right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent – June 17, 7 pm EDST Register at http://edge.united-church.ca/webinars/event-registration/?ee=8
– Re We are All Treaty People – watch for information in early fall.
- I am part of an ecumenical planning team that will host a gathering in November 2015 of key indigenous and non-indigenous church leaders from the 11 churches and religious organizations that form KAIROS. The purpose is to discern at what points and in what ways we might collaborate in responding to the TRC Calls to Action, and furthering healing, indigenous justice, and reconciliation in general.
- On June 23, there will be a conference call with ‘Living into Right Relations home group contacts’ from all 13 conferences. We will discuss how we might be engaged in the World Council of Churches call to a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace over the next 7 years, with the first year focusing on ‘reconciliation,’ and the second year on ‘land.’ There may also be some thinking about how to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1986 apology in August 2016.
- The parties to the Settlement Agreement, which includes the UCC, made a commitment to continue meeting to see how they can advance the implementation of the TRC Calls to Action.
- A group of 30 people have been invited to work together Aug.27-30, 2015 to name the ways the Doctrine of Discovery is operative in our church and society, and offer ways to transform and reform the church. They will begin to create resources that may help the church engage in decolonization.
- Dr. Marie Wilson, TR Commissioner, will offer the church a challenge at General Council 42 along with other indigenous leaders.
- Both the election kit of the UCC and of the Canadian Council of Churches point to questions to raise with election candidates concerning Aboriginal issues, which are also among the TRC Calls to Action.
- At Thanksgiving, KAIROS will launch their fall campaign “The Winds of Change: Reconciliation is in the Wind”, which we as a partner will promote enthusiastically.
- The Healing Fund and the Justice and Reconciliation Fund remain in place. The Alvin Dixon Memorial Bursary Fund has been newly created to assist Aboriginal people in obtaining post-secondary education.
- We continue to attend abuse claim hearings, and the Independent Assessment Process Secretariat hopes to complete all first hearings by the end of 2016.
In all this, the Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools, and the Aboriginal Ministries Council and Circle, continue to provide the vital leadership and guidance on this pilgrimage of reconciliation, up the mountain.
In peace and solidarity,
(Rev.) Cecile Fausak
Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator
General Council Office: Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools
780-676-0562 (office cell)
780-675-7753 (Athabasca, AB home office)