Dear friends in Christ,
Grace and peace to you in Jesus Christ! Everyone is being radically affected by the continuing spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Whether we are in self-isolation, quarantine or working in an essential job for the good of the whole community our lives have been changed in just a few short weeks.
For many of us the changes are temporary and inconvenient. For some, COVID-19 has resulted in illness that ranges from mild to severe to life-threatening, particularly for those with underlying medical conditions. It is also devastating in communities where medical care is limited or non-existent and where social distancing is difficult to community living conditions (eg. nursing homes, overcrowded housing, homeless shelters).
We are particularly concerned for those who live on Indigenous reserves. The lack of adequate medical facilities, overcrowded or inadequate housing in some communities and underlying health conditions or predispositions such as diabetes are common factors in many communities. This makes these communities highly vulnerable if COVID19 were to enter the reserve. Some have taken drastic measures to ensure their safety, including blockading the community roads to ensure their isolation from the virus.
These decisions have at times led to misunderstandings, racist comments and verbal abuse from those outside the reserves. When we are afraid of what we do not understand and live in the midst of uncertainty such behaviours can take hold.
We write to you, in the spirit of our ongoing reconciliation work, to ensure that such attitudes are not shared unchecked. Please pray for Indigenous communities across Canada as they seek the protection they need at this time from a virus that could cause much more death and destruction than in other communities.
Pray for Archbishop Mark and all the pastoral care teams at work in each community – with thanksgiving for their dedication and witness.
May we continue to hold up the light of Christ, loving all our neighbours as ourselves in this crisis.
Your in Christ,
The Most Reverend Linda C. Nicholls
Archbishop and Primate
The Most Rev. Mark MacDonald
National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop
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