A Statement from the House of Bishops of The Anglican Church of Canada
Concerning the Calls to Action from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
As bishops of The Anglican Church of Canada we are very grateful for the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Many of us have participated in the local, regional, and national gatherings hosted by Justice Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson, and Chief Wilton Littlechild. At the heart of every gathering was the opportunity for survivors of the Indian Residential Schools to tell their stories. We recognize the tremendous courage of all who shared their experiences of loneliness, humiliation and abuse. We commend the Commissioners for their steadfastness in listening to these stories and ensuring that they are never lost but preserved for all time in the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg. Having heard the testimony of thousands of former students and the inter-generational impact of their experiences on their families, the Commissioners issued at the Closing Ceremonies for the TRC in Ottawa in June, 94 Calls to Action.
The first several Calls draw attention to the nature and legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery; the terrible consequences for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis of a federal policy of assimilation made operable through the Indian Residential Schools; and the trauma of emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse experienced by thousands of children, many of whom died or went missing. Attention is also drawn to the deplorable state of child welfare in many indigenous communities today.
All the other Calls speak to reconciliation and how that might be achieved. They envision a future in which relations between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples are based on mutual respect. A number of the Calls are addressed to various levels of government, and a number to the Churches. Many of them call us to work in cooperation with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).
We embrace these Calls to Action in the spirit in which the Commissioners issued them, – as a roadmap for all Canadians in a journey toward reconciliation and renewal in our country.
We acknowledge the efforts of the staff of the General Synod to put in place a plan for how our Church will respond to these Calls to Action; and we are especially grateful for the commitment of The Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice to help us to do this work well. We are particularly mindful of the Call to the Churches to put in place by March 31st their plans for how they will implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
In the spirit of a number of the Calls to Action we remain deeply committed to walking in partnership with Indigenous peoples in their quest fro self-determination and rejoice in those moments that bring the vision of the elders and the hopes of the youth into greater focus and fruition.
Many of us have been blessed to have had one of the Commissioners speak at our Synods or other diocesan gatherings. We have learned much and been humbled by how much more we need to learn. We have been challenged and inspired to take our part in hearing and telling the truth, and in being ambassadors for that reconciliation by which relations in our country will be rebuilt.
We commit our best efforts to personally speak about these Calls to Action in our dioceses and to engage others in the work to which these calls summon us.
We ask your prayers for all Indigenous Peoples in Canada. In the midst of what so many describe as “overwhelming death in our communities” these Calls to Action represent so much hope for a brighter and better future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.
We ask your prayers for our new Federal Government. As it sets its course may these Calls to Action be declared a priority.
We ask you to join us in praying,
“Great Creator God,
who desires that all creation
live in harmony and peace.
Remembering the Children,
we dare to dream of a Path of Reconciliation
where apology from the heart leads to healing of the heart
and the chance of restoring the circle,
where justice walks with all,
where respect leads to true partnership,
where the power to change comes from each heart.
Hear our prayer of hope
and guide this country of Canada
on a new and different path.
(Reference: Remembering the Children Prayer, Church Leaders Tour 2009)
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