Ottawa – June 2, 2015

The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Roman Catholic Entities Parties to the Settlement Agreement, The United Church of Canada and the Jesuits of English Canada make the following statement in response to the findings and Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

It is with gratitude and humility that we are here today to speak together as representatives of churches that participated in the operation of Indian Residential Schools.  We are grateful to the Commissioners and staff of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada for the commitment with which they have carried out their mandate, and we are humbled in the knowledge that we continue to share a responsibility to ensure that the task of reconciliation does not end today.

Beginning in the 19th century and continuing until the late 1960’s, our churches were partners with the Government of Canada in running Indian Residential Schools. Notwithstanding the good intent and care of many who worked in the Schools, it is clear that Indian Residential Schools, in policy and in practice, were an assault on Indigenous families, culture, language and spiritual traditions, and that great harm was done. We continue to acknowledge and regret our part in that legacy.

Those harmed were children, vulnerable, far from their families and communities. The sexual, physical, and emotional abuse they suffered is well-documented.

Over the past six years we have, along with the Commission, listened to the experiences of those former students, who are no longer children. They are adults, some very old, who tell heart-breaking stories. We have heard them speak of wounds so deep that healing could not happen, and of damage visited upon their own children. We have also heard them witness to their resilience, and that of their communities, which has made possible many healing journeys.  We have heard of friendships formed in the Residential Schools in which students supported one another, sometimes for the rest of their lives.  Perhaps most humbling of all, we have heard survivors speak with enormous grace and generosity of teachers and others whose kindness offered some respite from the pain and humiliation that so deeply marked the overall experience of the schools.

We are grateful to the survivors, whose courageous witness has touched the heart of the life of our churches. There have been apologies from our churches, yet we know that our apologies are not enough. And so we are grateful as well to the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for their findings and for their clarity about our continuing responsibilities.

We acknowledge and welcome the specific calls to action that offer direction to the churches in our continuing commitment to reconciliation. In particular, we are committed to respect Indigenous spiritual traditions in their own right. As individual churches and in shared interfaith and ecumenical initiatives – for example through Kairos, through interfaith groups, and through the Canadian Council of Churches – we will continue to foster learning about and awareness of the reality and legacy of the residential schools, the negative impact of such past teachings as the Doctrine of Discovery, and the new ways forward found in places, such as  the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  We will continue our commitment to financial support for community-controlled initiatives in healing, language and cultural revitalization, education and relationship-building, and self-determination.

We welcome the Commissioners’ call to the parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement for a new Covenant of Reconciliation that would renew and expand our shared commitment to the continuing work of reconciliation, and invite others into that work, including new Canadians, who, while they were not part of the historic injustice, are now part of a country in which understanding and addressing that injustice is a national priority for all Canadians.

We also welcome wider Calls to Action that include our members as citizens and residents of Canada. There is a crucial need for the kinds of public and governmental initiatives that the Commissioners identify, including the establishment of a National Council of Reconciliation that would continue to hold this work before parliament and the Canadian people.

We recognize the need for equity in access to education and health care, and the critical need for new and culturally-appropriate ways of ensuring the welfare of children who are at risk.

And we enthusiastically support the call for teaching about the history and legacy of the residential schools in all Canadian schools, and commit ourselves to ensuring that the teaching ministry of our churches also acknowledges these realities.

Above all, we welcome the Commissioners’ Calls to Action as providing the basis for a wide and transformative conversation among Canadians about the better future we intend to foster, not just for Indigenous peoples, but for all of us who long to live in a society grounded in right relationships and equity.

We will continue to share in the work of healing and reconciliation, respectfully following the leadership of Indigenous communities and leaders, and to offer leadership among non-Indigenous Canadians where that is appropriate.

May the Creator guide us as we continue in the work of healing, justice, and right relations for the generations it will take to address that harm “and guide this country on a new and different path”. (Remembering the Children prayer, 2008)

Representatives of the Church entities making the joint statement:

 

Archbishop Fred Hiltz
Primate,
The Anglican Church of Canada

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Farris
Moderator,
The Presbyterian Church in Canada

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas
President,
Catholic Entities Parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement

The Right Reverend Gary Paterson
Moderator,
The United Church of Canada

Peter Bisson, SJ
Provincial,
Jesuits of English Canada

Carpet FB image

Post-22 Days learning and action opportunities for Anglicans

Following reflections by leaders of the Anglican Church of Canada, plans are underway to begin addressing the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Yet there is no shortage of immediate opportunities for church members to learn more and take action in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. In responding to the TRC recommendations, the … Continued

The Rev. Jessica Schaap (right), priest at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Vancouver, B.C., rings bells with a passer-by to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women as part of the #22Days project. Submitted photo

22 Days Later: Reflections and future plans

The end of the #22Days project saw members of the Anglican Church of Canada reflecting on their experience while pondering how the church could maintain its commitment to justice for Indigenous people going forward. For more than three weeks, Anglicans from coast to coast listened to the sacred stories of residential schools survivors, prayed for … Continued

22daysfbimage

#22Days Highlights: Week 3

As bells rang out across the country during the final week of the#22Days campaign, Anglicans looked to the future with an understanding that the journey towards healing and reconciliation has just begun. Throughout the week, the ringing of church bells continued to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women, drawing attention from politicians, the … Continued

22daysfbimage

#22Days Highlights: Week 1

In its first several days, the #22Days project—supported by the Anglican Church of Canada and spearheaded by deans and bishops in the church—saw an outpouring of grassroots participation and commitment to further the work of healing and reconciliation. Daily videos (called sacred stories) and prayers were first published on the 22Days website starting on May … Continued

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, walks with a child en route to the planting of a heart garden at the closing ceremony of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Ceremonial Day and Closing: ‘This ending is just the beginning’

Remembering the past while offering hope for the future, the final day of theTruth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) closing ceremonies on Wednesday, June 3 made it clear that the journey towards reconciliation in Canada has just begun. The ceremonial end of the four-day TRC national event took place in the Governor General’s residence at Rideau … Continued

Response of the Churches to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Ottawa – June 2, 2015 The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Roman Catholic Entities Parties to the Settlement Agreement, The United Church of Canada and the Jesuits of English Canada make the following statement in response to the findings and Calls to Actionissued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. It is with … Continued

A young Franches Fletcher darns socks in the sewing room of the Anglican-run St. John’s Residential School during the 1940s.

Learning Day: ‘We still have lots to learn’

Education was the focus of the second day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) closing ceremonies on Monday, June 1. A series of learning opportunities explored the legacy of colonialism and Indian residential schools, reflecting the words of Justice Murray Sinclair, TRC commissioner and chair: “Education got us into this, and it is education … Continued

Walk wide - FB

Gathering Day: ‘We are all in this together’

A strong contingent of Anglicans were among thousands of people who gathered in the nation’s capital on Sunday, May 31, as the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) officially got underway. The opening day of the TRC closing saw an estimated 10,000 people participate in the Walk for Reconciliation—which followed a 4.7-kilometre … Continued

Saskatoon Police Service aboriginal relations consultant Monica Goulet speaks at the Voices of Our Sisters event on April 18. Submitted photo by Blake Sittler

Ecumenical event highlights missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls

Members of the Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon joined other denominations on Saturday, April 18 for a day-long ecumenical response to the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Taking place in the city’s Mayfair United Church, Voices of Our Sisters: Standing Together in Hope brought together a range of speakers, and included … Continued

The Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr in Jerusalem.

Resources available for Jerusalem Sunday

With the second annual observance of Jerusalem Sunday just around the corner, a number of new liturgical resources are available online for parishes planning to join the celebration on May 17. Links to the resources can be found on a single convenient web page. The resources include information about Jerusalem Sunday, liturgical materials, prayers, sermon notes … Continued

The Bentwood Box, a tribute created by artist Luke Marston to all Indian residential school survivors , is seen at one of the seven national events held by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Anglicans prepare for TRC closing ceremonies

Marking a new stage in the healing journey of residential school survivors, the Anglican Church of Canada will have a major presence at the upcoming closing ceremonies for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Since the establishment of the TRC in 2008, General Synod leaders have attended seven TRC national events at which survivors described … Continued

Members of the the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), church leaders and Aboriginal organizations celebrate the opening of the sixth national TRC event in Vancouver, Sept. 2013. Photo: BC GOV PHOTOS ON FLICKR

TRC to hold final public event this March

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), formed in 2008 to help begin healing over Canada’s residential school system for Indigenous peoples, will be holding its final public event at the end of March in Edmonton. Similar to past events, this one will feature traditional ceremonies, survivor gatherings and statements, an education day, and more. Although … Continued