Living into Right Relations- February 27, 2017

Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice News from The United Church of Canada

Standing Rock: The United Churches (of Christ and of Canada) Respond
With the recent Presidential Executive Order allowing the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to move forward, water protectors have been moved off the land. The Standing Rock tribe continues to assert its treaty rights and the right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), and people from across North America continue to act in solidarity.

Our full communion partner, the United Church of Christ, has issued a statement and, in response to requests for solidarity, will march with Standing Rock in Washington at Rise for Standing Rock on March 10.  If you are able and interested in joining them, please register with the United Church of Christ.

The United Church of Canada has also expressed its concern about respect for treaty rights and FPIC.  The Pension and Treasury boards have signed onto this shareholder letter to major banks invested in DAPL.  The action was organized by Boston Common Asset Management and reflects the investors’ fiduciary responsibility to uphold human rights principles in investment.  It is also part of the United Church’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework of reconciliation

UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The Government of Canada has just announced the formation of a Working Group of Ministers to review all laws and policies related to Indigenous peoples.  The “whole government” structure will work with Indigenous organizations and youth to “examine relevant federal laws, policies, and operational practices to help ensure the Crown is meeting its constitutional obligations with respect to Aboriginal and treaty rights; adhering to international human rights standards, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.”

This follows on a recent speech by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould in which she said that only Indigenous Peoples – not the federal government ­– could determine what Indigenous modes of government should be.

It remains to be seen whether the Working Group will recommend a legislative framework for implementation of the Declaration, such as that proposed in Private Member’s Bill C-262.  Such a framework would make it more difficult for subsequent governments to undo any advances made in implementation of the Declaration.

Stay tuned for news of an ecumenical campaign in support of the principles articulated in Bill C-262.

New Resources: Doctrine of Discovery Webpage and Worship Materials
In 2012, as part of its ongoing process of listening, apology, and reconciliation, The United Church of Canada repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, a theological and legal principle justifying European colonization.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission subsequently called on Canadians to understand this piece of history, and how it still reverberates today. We have developed a Doctrine of Discovery webpage which will become a hosting place for education, action, and worship materials on the Doctrine of Discovery.  Our first postings are a backgrounder, a Lenten lament, and a worship service focussing on the Doctrine of Discovery.  We’ll be adding more materials soon.

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