LIRR Digest – May 20

Warm May greetings to you before the long weekend (is it time to rethink “Victoria Day”?)

On May 5, the United Church minister Rev. Donalee Williams from Fort McMurray and her husband Ian and their 4 cats arrived to stay with my spouse and I in Athabasca.  It has been a whirlwind of emotions and adjustments, trying to hold space for so many hurting people. Fortunately their home and the United Church do not appear harmed at this time.  On Pentecost Sunday, we were challenged to remember sacred fire and wind as symbols of energy, comfort, necessity, and inspiration; and celebrated the strength of community in the Spirit of Christ, love and sharing that is sustaining us and lifting us up.   There are four First Nations communities that have been especially effected by that huge fire:  Fort McKay, Fort McMurray, Athabasca Chipewayn, and Mikisew Cree.  On a conference call with the LIRR Group of Alberta and Northwest Conference, it was noted that generally the Indigenous evacuees and their families have less support systems, and financial capacity than many of the others to cope with the loss and disruption to home and work life.   We discussed how the funds being collected by the United Church may also assist the First Nation peoples affected in the longer term.

On May 30 to August 18,  I will be embarking on a sabbatical time, during which I intend to reflect on the journey of healing and reconciliation that I have been a part of for the past 11 years in my ministry employment at General Council.

I will compile one more LIRR Digest before May 30.  Then we are preparing to send out the LIRR Digest via Mail Chimp, and Debbie Siertsema and Sara Stratton will be managing that transition.  Depending on how things go, there may be a monthly digest in June, July, and August.

You are always welcome to view much of the same material at

A beautiful prayer litany including the story of how the apology came to be, the apology and the 1988 response created by Rev. Susan Beaver; and a hymn written by Rev. Curtis Tufts, as well as a complete worship service with communion liturgy is now available as part of the worship resources to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1986 United Church Apology to First Nations People.  There are theological reflections from Rev. Ray Aldred and Rev. Marie Fortune.  The resources are suggested for congregational use on June 5 or 12, or at Conference and Presbytery meetings.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the webpage for the pdfs. or
You can also be planning for Aboriginal Sunday on June 19,  a time to celebrate the gifts and contributions of Indigenous peoples in the church and in Canada.

Kathleen Mahoney writes: “here’s the problem: our origin story is false.  In 1996, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples observed, “A country cannot be built on a living lie.”  After 150 years in denial, coming to terms with our true origin story is long overdue.  Recognition that indigenous peoples were founders of the nation must be acknowledged in a formal, legal way.  Only then will there be a solid foundation for Canada to reconcile its past and lay the foundation for a new relationship with its first peoples.”   Mahoney proposed the resetting of Canada’s origins to parliamentarians on May 10, 2016, at a Big Thinking lecture organized by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The Liberal government must give Canada’s indigenous people the “right to say no” to development on their traditional lands as it embraces a United Nations declaration on aboriginal rights, National Chief Perry Bellegarde told a UN session Thursday.”  This is on the heels of Canada removing its ‘objector’ status to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, announced that former Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Ms. Kim Baird, former Yukon Premier Mr. Tony Penikett and Dr. Annette Trimbee will comprise the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project Ministerial Panel.
The panel is tasked with engaging communities and local Indigenous groups and reviewing feedback that will be provided online regarding the project and project-related issues. The panel’s work starts in June and concludes in November with a report to Minister Carr, which will be made public.
The Tsleil-Waututh Nation,  with a different understanding of ‘consultation’, has already rejected the new panel.

Wab Kinew, newly elected Manitoba MLA, on Canadian racism, relocating Attawapiskat, and the ‘criminal’ state of Aboriginal education:
Paul Martin needs to learn from Wab Kinew what systemic racism is and how it indeed exists in Canada:
Pam Palmater responds to Paul Martin:

Leon Thompson gives careful consideration to renaming public buildings, roads, etc which ‘honor’ controversial historical figures, illustrated by the case of Nicholas Flood Davin who founded the Regina Leader newspaper. As an MP, he authored in 1879 what has come to be known as the Davin Report; a “Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half Breeds,” stating that, among other things, “little can be done” with adult Indians.   Based on his recommendations, the first Industrial schools were built, including ones in Regina, and in Red Deer and Dunbow in Alberta in 1892.
Are there similar cases where you live?

The motto of the campaign is “Listen, Learn, Show Up and Share”.  Whether it’s through movies, music, or dancing, every event is geared towards bringing people together to learn about each other.  The month culminates in a flag raising ceremony and a walk in Victoria Park on June 22.

Fleming College in Peterborough has signed the document supporting commitment to Indigenous education and offers a vision of how to achieve improvement and better serve Indigenous peoples.  The protocol outlines seven principles to follow that will increase Indigenous teachings in courses, expand on cultural traditions and ensure governance structures recognize and respect Indigenous peoples, for instance.  It’s great to see Elder Shirley Williams pictured – she was an esteemed elder at the ecumenical gathering “Peoples of Faith Moving Forward in Reconciliation” held in November 2015 in Pickering, ON.

Edmonton is figuring out how to reconcile different narratives of important people, places and events.  A key part of this for many in the community is the complicated history and legacy of the Charles Camsell Hospital which began as an Indian Hospital in 1946 and then became a Provincial General Hospital in 1980.  Many of the patients came from northern Canada, and never returned home.  Over 90 Protestant patients who died in hospital were buried on the grounds of the then Edmonton Indian Residential School.  Those graves and memorial monument are now part of the St. Albert city cemetery.   On April 1, 2016 the Edmonton Heritage Council invited a diverse group of people to explore the many sides and stories of this site from its early days through to its decommissioning in 1996.  For more info on the Symposium, including videos and summary report, see:
It might be helpful to hold such symposiums regarding other ‘Indian hospitals’ and sanitoriums; and schools, creating safe places for more truth-telling.  What do you think?

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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