Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, asks that on Sunday, June 8, Canadians pray for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology to residential school survivors. The apology is scheduled for June 11 in the House of Commons, and Archbishop Hiltz plans to attend, along with the Ven. Sidney Black and the Rev. Gloria Moses, co-chairs of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples.
Aboriginal groups have expressed concern that they have not, so far, been consulted in the writing of this apology. The Primate and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald wrote the Prime Minister about these concerns on May 23. On June 2, another letter was sent from KAIROS, the ecumenical justice coalition that includes the Anglican Church of Canada.
The KAIROS letter stated, “A sincere and meaningful apology is essential if it is to contribute to the ongoing process of healing between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous peoples. This will not be possible if Indigenous peoples are excluded, since a key component of a meaningful apology must be the involvement of the victims at all stages.”
Church leaders recommend this as a point for prayer: that appropriate consultations will take place and that the apology will mark an important milestone in the work of healing and reconciliation in Canada.
At various times between 1820 and 1969, the Anglican Church of Canada administered three dozen Indian and Eskimo residential schools and hostels across Canada. In 1993, Primate Michael Peers apologized to Aboriginals for the church’s involvement in the system. Today, the church continues to work on improving relationships with Aboriginals through programs like Indigenous Ministries, the Anglican Healing Fund, the Indigenous Justice Working Group, and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.
In early March, the Primate and Bishop MacDonald participated in the four-city Remembering the Children tour, where Aboriginal and church leaders promoted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. On the tour’s website, the Primate highlighted these words from the Remembering the Children prayer:
“We dare to dream of a path of reconciliation where apology from the heart leads to healing of the heart…Hear our prayer of hope, and guide this country of Canada on a new and different path.”
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