All Photographs courtesy of Tracy Harper
In Winnipeg, February 2019, the Mennonite Church of Canada began organizing a teach-in, to encourage support for Bill C-262. This bill will enable Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP). This bill is currently in the Senate. The Senate has the power to delay voting on this bill until the end of the current Parliamentary session. If the bill is delayed, it will die, however, supporters of UNDRIP have the power to create public pressure on Senators to pass the bill.
Mennonites in Saskatoon picked up the challenge to invite ecumenical partners to organize a parallel event here in Saskatoon. A call went out, and in 3 weeks the “Called to Action” event was organized in support of Bill C-262. On the afternoon of March 2nd, diverse speakers, and culturally appropriate entertainers, Fiddlers, Drummers, Dancers, and Spoken Word Poets, gathered at the Francis Morrison Library.
Mark Arcand, Saskatoon Tribal Chief, brought forth official greetings and spoke about local concerns.
Sherri Benson, MP Saskatoon West, spoke on the importance of the passage of the bill.
Harry Lafond, of Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, talked of the implementations of the Bill C-262 and the TRC recommendations.
Bishop Christopher Harper spoke on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), Bill C-262, and the recommendations that arose from the TRC hearings. Bill C–262 was brought to Parliament to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with UNDRIP as adopted by the United Nations in 2007. The Church can be the bridge to make the connection.
Senator Lillian Dyck gave a comprehensive overview of how the Senate operates, helping us understand the Senate process and within it the political power to delay voting on the bill until it dies on the Senate floor. She encouraged us to have a voice and explained how we can walk the talk by directly contacting Senators to vote for bill C-262.
Make your voice heard:
“If Bill C-262 does not reach third reading in the Senate before Parliament is dissolved when the election is called, it will die on the order.”
Write Letters! Handwritten letters are often given attention due to the time and care it takes to write them. Phone calls, emails, and social media contacts are also influential.
More education and understanding is hastily needed in communities’ and churches about UNDRIP and bill C-262.