LLIR – August 3, 2016: Welcome back.

Welcome to the new newsletter of the United Church’s Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools  –  a gathering of news and information from the United Church’s Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice program.  We hope you’ll continue to find it a helpful way to engage in this work of such importance to our church and our country.

The 1986 Apology – Thirty Years Later
One the Church’s most important steps towards reconciliation came 30 years ago this August, when the 31st General Council, in response to a request from the Indigenous church, apologized for its role in colonization and the destruction of Indigenous cultures and spiritualities.  Much of our work since then, from the 1998 apology to former students of residential schools and their families to our participation in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission [TRC] to our commitment to living out the TRC Calls to Action, is part of our effort to, as Indigenous people asked, live out the Apology in “action and sincerity.”  This August, join us at a commemorative event in Sudbury or view our new video.  And stay tuned for a special Apology-themed issue of Mandate in November!

Restorative Justice and the TRC
Join us in Saskatoon, October 14-16, 2016 for a weekend to explore the how theology and practice of “restorative solidarity” [PDF] can help animate our response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Facilitators for this immersive experience are Ched Myers and Elaine Enns of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, and it’s a cooperative venture of BCM, St. Andrew’s College, the Saskatchewan Treaty Commission Office, The United Church of Canada’s Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools, KAIROS, Mennonite Church Canada Indigenous Relations, Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan, and the National Anglican Indigenous Bishop.  More details to follow, but for now, hold the date for what promises to be a challenging and enriching educational opportunity.  For more information, contact Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator Sara Stratton.

Bill C262: UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
In April, Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou MP Romeo Saganash introduced a private member’s bill, Bill C-262, to make Canadian law compliant with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Such action would be congruent with TRC Call to Action 43, adoption and implementation of the UN Declaration, which the federal government said in May it fully committed to. Since then, however, there has been further debate, with the Minister of Indigenous Affairs stating that the Declaration would not be adopted directly into Canadian law but rather through consultation with Indigenous communities. This will be an ongoing issue, and we’ll continue to track it.  In the meantime, check out this issue of Northern Public Affairs  focussing on the Declaration and the issue of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls
Community consultations on the upcoming Inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls are now complete and we await the official announcement of the focus and terms of reference of the Inquiry. Recently leaked documents have raised concerns that police conduct will not receive sufficient scrutiny, and that the experiences of survivors and families will not be prioritized as hoped.  In December 2012, the Moderator expressed the United Church’s hope that families and Indigenous perspectives be foremost in the shaping of the Inquiry. We continue to hold survivors and their families and communities in prayer as we anticipate news of the Inquiry’s launch.

Site C Dam: Paddle for the Peace
Mobilization in solidarity with Prophet River and West Moberly First Nations around the Site C Dam in Northern BC continues with strong ecumenical representation from KAIROS BC-Yukon.  In July, the group’s second annual Rolling Justice Bus Tour travelled North from Vancouver to learn more about this ecological and Indigenous justice struggle and to join with others, including Keepers of the Water and IJRS Animator Cecile Fausak, in the Paddle for the Peace day on the river.  At question are the possible environmental impacts of the dam, including on territory considered sacred by these First Nations, and whether treaty rights have been observed in the assessment and approval process.

KAIROS “Education for Reconciliation” Campaign Continues
Your voice is needed now more than ever to ensure that our children and grandchildren learn a different history than we did, and that all Canadians understand the complex role that Indigenous peoples played and continue to play in the life of this country.  KAIROS is still accepting signatures on its provincial/territorial campaign to revise mandatory curriculum in grades K-12. While they’re continuing to collect signatures in all provinces and territories, there’s a sense of momentum in BC and Alberta at the moment. For more information and campaign materials, visit the KAIROS website.

Contribute Your Worship Ideas to Gathering!
Do you have creative ideas about how to reflect reconciliation and Indigenous justice issues in worship?  If so, why not contribute to Gathering?  The next round of submissions is due September 30 – you can email e-mail your prayers, litanies, and worship ideas to gather@united-church.ca.

Follow Us on Social Media
Follow us on social media! Our Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools Facebook page is a great source of news and information – and you don’t need a Facebook account to read it.  But if you do have an account, then you can “like” the page and add your own input: share news, engage in conversation, and contribute to our growing online community.  IJRS Animator Sara Stratton  is also on Facebook and tweets @JustWatershed, so give her a follow. She shares the occasional recipe, birdwatching tip, and bad joke as well as news from our common work.

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