Reconciliation Presentation at Synod 2016
Greetings Bishop, Chancellor, Diocesan Clergy, Synod Delegates and guests as you gather on Treaty Six Territory
Working toward genuine reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada is a responsibility we all share. We as the church and society can’t wait for our governments and administrators to make the change.
Reconciliation is defined as the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement. Friendly again? What do indigenous and non–indigenous need to do to become friendly again?
It starts with striving for understanding and building relationships. It is the responsibility of every Canadian to understand the injustices committed in their countries name.
Every citizen, including Anglicans, are on a journey to learn the history and legacy of Canada’s residential schools and acknowledge the racist and colonial policies of cultural genocide and assimilation continue to this day.
The crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada is one example. A second example is Dr. Cindy Blackstock’s writings, Reconciliation Means Not Saying Sorry Twice: explaining “The number of First Nations children in care outside their own homes today is three times the number of children in residential schools at the height of operation.”
Chronic underfunding of First nations schools and the cultural biases still underpinning much of the educational curriculum policies are more examples of areas that need change.
So what do I need to know?
That the United Nations declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 was a framework of reconciliation:
Recognize the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories, and resources,
That The Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada Call to Action was released June 2015. And the section Church Apologies and Reconciliation speaks of developing ongoing education strategies to ensure congregations learn about their role in colonization, history, and legacy of residential schools and why apologies are necessary.
Calls that faiths in collaboration with indigenous spiritual leaders, survivors, schools of theology, seminaries are to develop and teach curriculum for all students and all clergy and staff who work in aboriginal communities on the need to respect indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of church parties in that system. Also the history and legacy of religious conflict in aboriginal families and communities and the churches role to mitigate such conflicts.
So what can you and I do?
We all have different God-given strengths, abilities and areas of influence where we can advocate and collaborate locally and provincially, with metis, first nation groups, Elders, Office of the Treaty Commissioner, church groups, municipalities, provincial agencies, education be it in public, catholic education, universities, health, policing, employment, affordable, accessible childcare, affordable housing.
All of us must consider our role in respecting and learning about inherent Aboriginal title and Treaty relationships.
We need to look within ourselves and see what’s in our own heart and our power to do.
Reconciliation is a process of relationship building.
Like the Treaties, it has to be co-created and acted upon to remain relevant and alive.
Our hope lies in learning and unwavering commitment to tolerance, respect, and inclusiveness in our relationships. A simple quote from Justice Sinclair at Station 20 West stays with me – “you take my back and I’ll take yours”
Are you interested in Reconciliation events?
Emails are sent to each church and events are regularly posted on the Diocesan Website. At this moment you will find Elders Teachings being held at the Saskatoon Police Station, the Sister in Spirit 10th annual walk from White Buffalo and the event TRC Calls Churches to Action at St Andrews College.
At the Saskatchewan National Event in 2012, our diocese placed a Prayer in the Bentwood Box as our commitment to work toward reconciliation. Let us close with the prayer.
“We pray that this National Truth and Reconciliation Event in Saskatchewan signals a new day, a new opportunity and a new future for both the Anglican and Aboriginal people. We do not know what the future will look like, but in trusting faith, we turn to God our Creator and pray that He will lead us together”
This presentation was given to the Diocesan Synod by Mary Ann Assailly on September 30, 2016