Report of General Synod committee on Indian and Eskimo Affairs

August 1, 1967 — Encouragement of leadership and self-determination should be the keystone of the church’s policy in its approach to the complex problems confronting Canada’s native peoples says a report prepared for presentation to the 23rd General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meeting here next month.

The report, by the synod’s inter-departmental committee on Indian and Eskimo affairs under the chairmanship of Rt. Rev. Russell F. Brown, Bishop of Quebec, urges federal and provincial governments to include Indians in all levels of the decision-making process, particularly those directly affected by such decisions and policies.

The report is self-condemnatory stating that the committee itself has no Indian or Eskimo representation at present and stresses the need for their inclusion in policy-making church bodies.

Noting that government and church alike must share responsibility for the position of the native peoples in modern society, the report adds, “we, as Christians, must plead for forgiveness for our participation in the perpetuation of injustices to Indians.”

Dealing mainly with the Indian situation, the report calls for support of organizations which recently have been formed at both national and provincial levels. The bodies, mostly non-sectarian and voluntary, are significant in that they provide the means whereby Indians may begin to determine their own future. In addition, the development of Indian Friendship Centres across the country has helped Indians in the transition from rural to urban life.

The Committee believes that community development offers a challenge to missionaries and clergy in the field because it can be an important factor in their local situation, and one to which the church must address itself.

“Insofar as community development enables people to rise to a new level of self-determination and personal stature it is in agreement with that part of the Christian tradition which identifies with the humanity of Jesus,” the report says. “The motivation of the Christian’s involvement with men is founded upon the assumption that all men are sacred and holy in that they have been created by God.”

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