LIRR Digest – April 20, 2016

Greetings! After taking part in the webinar Tuesday night, I have a sense that many new relationships and programs will be springing up involving youth! There is hope among much deep sadness.

It was inspiring to hear about youth programs that are working to build friendships among Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth, and create more understanding.  Many resources were shared and I have included the list.  View the recording with your congregational education committee, camp board, or presbytery to plant some seeds!

Winds of Change Campaign Update, April 14 from 1:00 to 2:00 pm EST.
As well as a chance to check-in and strategize together, Sabrina Bonfonti will be speaking.  She is the mastermind behind the Blanket Exercise Edu-Kit and she works schools in Quebec who, with her support, have undertaken some inspiring reconciliation projects.
To Connect: Use this link
Petition deadline has been extended to October 15.
To date KAIROS has received over 9000 signatures with over half coming from Ontario. They will present the petitions in the Ontario legislature this spring and in the other provinces this fall.  Presenting the petitions in the Ontario legislature will help build on the impressive momentum that has been growing since mid March.
Meeting your MPPs – Resources to help you
While your meeting may be six months away, we encourage you to join the webinar led by KAIROS’ Cheryl McNamara on Thursday, April 7 at 1 pm ET.  She will guide you on meeting with your representatives.  In her six years as a climate activist with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Cheryl has met with more than 50 political representatives in Ottawa, Toronto and Washington. The webinar will be taped.
Documents will be posted on the Winds of Change page to help make your meeting a great success!  This includes a meeting outline, a template for taking notes, details on how to submit your notes online, and tips on how to take good notes. Your notes will be critical as we plan next steps.
Mass Blanket Exercises
Hopefully, groups in each provincial and territorial capital are beginning to plan the hosting of a Mass Blanket Exercise on local legislative grounds during the first week of June.  I know Julie Graham, new Saskatchewan Conference staff is on the move in Regina, and a group in Edmonton is moving forward as well.
Contact to learn about what’s happening in your capital.
The Justice and Reconciliation Fund granted $8,000 to KAIROS to help train more Blanket Exercise facilitators, write a guide for conducting Mass Blanket Exercises, and promote and conduct  the MBE in each capital.

General Council is encouraging reflection on the 1986 apology and 1988 response at Conference and Presbytery meetings this spring. Please see “From Apology towards Reconciliation”, posted on and in French
There will also be worship resources for suggested use on June 5 or 12 in congregations (hopefully posted by the end of April, work in progress now).

This issue on the theme of “Reconciliation” is chockfull of workshops for all ages and stages on the journey, articles, book reviews, Bible study, etc.  Why not pick up a copy, and get started.  There are 240 copies available still.  You can order by calling UCRD at 1-800-288-7365. Quote product # CH11007.

Many of you may have heard of the tragic fire last week at Pikangikum, killing 9 people, three generations of a family, including 3 children under 5.  There is a United Church presence in Pikangikum.  There is no running water, only one fire truck and no passable roads at this time of year.  This tragedy should not have happened.

Jim and Marjorie Dawson are active members of Grace United Church in Port Dover, and have been supporting Pikangikum’s music and outdoors programs through donations of outdoor equipment and instruments, sponsoring Battle of the Bands and teaching canoeing each spring as well as being active participants in the Pikangikum Working Group bringing clean water to homes.  The Dawsons have established a website, to raise funds to equip every one of the 400 homes in Pikangikum with long life smoke and CO detectors and also, hopefully fire extinguishers.  Smoke detector and fire extinguisher manufacturer Kidde is part of the project.  For $30 a smoke/CO detector can be purchased, transported and installed in a home and for $50 a fire extinguisher.  You can make a donation by using the donate button on the website or going to any Scotia Bank and making a donation to account number 90852 0178985.  Any help you can provide would be more than welcome, including just keeping the community of Pikangikum in your thoughts and prayers.

Christian Peacemaker Team – Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Project, is seeking support for a weeklong gathering/rally in Toronto to highlight the impacts of mercury poisoning of the water, and clear cut logging in Grassy Narrows. Please see the attached Fundraising Package.
The estimated costs will be in the region of $30,000 for this week of events- the largest of which are transportation costs for the Grassy Narrows community’s 1,700 km trip to Toronto, as well as logistical costs for hosting them in Toronto for a week.
Please encourage all to attend the events.  More information is available at

After 11 people tried to kill themselves in a single night, a remote Ontario First Nation has declared a state of emergency to prevent deaths among young people.
Here’s what has happened, what’s being done about it and some important context to understand it.  Some staff at General Council met Tuesday, April 12 and a response is in formation.
Your prayers for Attawapiskat, and Cross Lake, and all Aboriginal communities shadowed by the spectre of suicide are needed.

Gabor Maté, a retired B.C. physician who specializes in addiction, is often asked to visit First Nations communities.  He recognizes that “At the core of the suicide pandemic is unresolved trauma, passed almost inexorably from one generation to the next, along with social conditions that induce further hopelessness.  The source of that multigenerational trauma is this country’s colonial past and its residue in the present.”  He asks “How do we as a country move to heal the trauma that drives the misery of many native communities?” and suggests these responses:

  • “To begin, native history must be taught fully and in unsparing detail in our schools.”  
  • The resonant values, brilliant art, stories and wisdom culture of First Nations people should be introduced in Canadian schools.”
  • We must renounce any political, economic or social policy that reinforces the colonial trauma of disempowerment, loss and dispossession.”
  • Institutions and individuals interacting with native people must become deeply trauma-informed.”
  • “Alternative forms of justice must be developed, aligned with native traditions and in consultation with First Nations.”
  • Economic and social conditions that engender despair must be addressed, with the utmost urgency.”

The widely acclaimed (I’ve seen it and it’s amazing) production of NEW BLOOD blends traditional Blackfoot music and contemporary music by Peter Gabriel, to create an amazing piece of theatre celebrating Blackfoot history and traditions.  Featuring poetry, music, contemporary and traditional dance, the show is inspired by the life of Chief Vincent Yellow Old Woman and his experience as a child in residential school; how he reclaimed his way of life and became chief of his people. Performed by Strathmore High School Students, various artists, and their director/educator, Deanne Bertsch.  For more details see

It will be performed on April 22 at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.  The troupe is keen to go on tour.

If you would like to discuss the preservation and protection of your IAP records, please contact the NCTR at 204-474-6618 or

For more information on saving records from about 40,000 claimants in the Independent Assessment Process, go to  the website of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation or to the website of the IAP Secretariat

Read more about this case involving the British Columbia Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations approval of a Master Development Agreement for a ski hill operation proposed by Glacier Resorts, and the Ktunaxa who say that they have important spiritual interests in the area, which is known as Qat’muk, home of the Grizzly Bear Spirit.  This appeal could have significant implications for communities whose religious and cultural practices are deeply connected to sacred sites.

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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