LIRR Digest – August 21, 2015

Hello travellers on the journey of reconciliation,

On Sunday, August 16, I was happy to be present in worship with Southminister-Steinhauer UC in Edmonton, where Rev. Clair Woodbury and Joyce Madsen were leading on the theme of “reconciliation”.  I commend to you their reflection based on the gospel story from Luke 15 of “The Lost Son” (click on Spiritual Gatherings, and the date and preacher you wish to hear).  The children’s story “The Owl and the Woodpecker” by Brian Wildsmith was very appropriate for dealing with different worldviews and becoming good neighbors. They also used a poem from “My Heart Soars” by Chief Dan George, and Rebeka Tabobondung’s poem “Reconciliation”.   I also was inspired by listening to Rev. Nancy Steeves on June 28 speaking on “Habits of the Heart: Unsettling” based on Matthew 19:13-24 (Jesus Blesses the Children, and the story of the Rich Young Man – “spiritual bankruptcy because of lack of right relationships”, and the need to embody change in social policy) and her experiences at Tatamagouche, including the leadership of gisedtanamoogk.

The article below about Dr. Bryce makes me think that we might research and honor some of the United Church personnel who spoke out on behalf of the children, and were mostly dismissed.  I understand Rev. Earl Stotesbury exposed sexual abuse occurring at the Edmonton Industrial School, at the time of the General Council held in Edmonton in 1960; and subsequently a minister was charged and sentenced. Stotesbury initiated a “labour of love” of a dry stone wall garden and amphitheatre at Wesley United Church with Saugeen First Nation#29 which they have proudly recently restored.

On Friday, August 21,  I will be attending the fourth feast to remember the children who died at the File Hills Indian Residential School, located on the Okanese First Nation.  Thanks to the United Church folk in the Qu’appelle Valley and Saskatchewan Conference for all their faithful support in co-hosting the feast, and taking these steps on the journey of reconciliation.

Our summer issue of “Turning the Page Together” is jam-packed with stories surrounding the closing activities of the TRC and steps towards reconciliation taken across the country: in Toronto and Saskatchewan Conference, at Tatamagouche, in Penticton, Victoria, St. Albert, Brandon, Alert Bay, and in the General Council Office.  It’s attached and online

It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch with how the intensive Returning to Spirit program of reconciliation  is being offered, but this week I had a conversation with Janine Luggi, a Trainer and their BC Partnerships liaison.  Two successful Aboriginal workshops were held in Hazelton, BC this past February and April,  and now it is hoped to hold a non-Aboriginal workshop in that region.  Please see the 7-minute video for a good description of the transformation in relationships that occurs when Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people take part in two week-long sessions, separately one week and together in another week.

The schedule of upcoming programs can be found at:

Winnipeg                          Sept. 3 for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal workshop

St.Theresa Point, MB        Oct. 5 for Aboriginal

Winnipeg                          Feb. 13-17, 2016  for Reconciliation workshop

Quebec                            For the first time, in November 2015, still being negotiated, the program will be offered in Quebec.

The province of BC is allowing BC Hydro to clear the south bank in preparation for building the Site C Dam on the Peace River, despite the fact that Treaty 8 court challenges to the building of the dam are still in process. The Treaty 8 Tribal Association received notice that 28 eagles’ nest would be removed by Sept. 1.  The nests slated for removal represent half of the large raptor nests in the Peace River corridor between Hudson’s Hope and the Alberta border.  West Moberly and Prophet River First Nations are seeking an injunction to protect the nests.  Raven Trust has been raising funds for the original court case, and is now seeking an additional $50,000 to cover the costs of seeking the injunction.

Irvin Studin says government leaders must confront this question: “On the one hand, it is about how to lift Canada’s indigenous people from the posture of being the losing parties — strategically speaking — in Canadian history to one of being co-equals in Canadian governance this century.  On the other hand, it is about ensuring that the Canadian state remains coherent and governable, even as this transition to Aboriginal co-equality takes place.”  He posits that the revival and mainstreaming of main Aboriginal languages, and a more electic reimagining of Canada’s internal boundaries and identities (not just provinces and territories) will be big parts of the response to the question.

Take a look at the UCC Election kit, page 11 – Aboriginal Peoples: Working for Justice and Reconciliation

Dr. Cindy Blackstock initiated a memorial for Dr. Peter Bryce at his resting place in Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa. In 1907, Dr Bryce, a federal medical officer of health documented the appalling conditions in Canada’s Indian Residential School system, including those operated by UCC ancestors.  His reports and pleas to improve conditions were ignored. Blackstock said “Bryce had the moral courage to stand up for the kids and take all the pushback that comes with that. Bryce really confronts us with the reality that people knew then about the harms, had a choice to make it different, and that there were people like him who spoke out.”

This is a helpful article on the terms ‘genocide’ as defined by the UN Genocide Convention of 1948, and ‘cultural genocide’ by David B. MacDonald who is a professor of political science at the University of Guelph, and the author of several works comparing the genocidal experiences of indigenous peoples in Western settler states and their continuing legacies.

John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights in Edmonton is accepting applications from young renegade Western Canadians, between 16 and 28, who care about our country and want to work towards building peace in their communities through truth and reconciliation. These youth will work as a team to build a renewed sense of what it means to be Canadian in Western Canada.! At the retreat, 40 youth will join a movement of young people from across Canada committed to defending and protecting human rights in their home communities. Through an educational tour of St. Paul, AB (and Saddle Lake First Nation) youth will deepen their understanding of the diverse experiences that make up Western Canada and how these experiences have shaped our realities as Canadians today. Youth will also engage in debate, dialogue, brainstorming and hands on sessions to equip them with the tools to affect change in your community and strengthen a culture of human rights.  The application form and contact for bursaries are here:

In peace,
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)



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