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November 17, 2021
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Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice News from
The United Church of Canada

Indigenous United Church Participation at COP 26

 
Collage image of all the COP26 participants.

This year, The United Church of Canada and the ecumenical initiative For the Love of Creation collaborated in a virtual delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow.

Tony Snow, a member of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation and The United Church of Canada Climate Advisory Circle, was a member of the joint team. Check here for his reflection on All Saints Day at COP, and here for a workshop he and other delegates did as part of the United Church’s recent Love and Justice conference.

CHRT Rulings on Canada’s Discrimination Against Indigenous Children


On October 29, the federal government once again appealed the ruling of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that Canada discriminates against Indigenous children. It also agreed to negotiate into December with the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. Former TRC Chief Commissioner Murray Sinclair is mediating the talks. Keep an eye on the news for any developments.

The Legacy of Mission


In 2016, The Very Rev. Stan McKay drew United Church leaders’ attention to The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s findings concerning spiritual violence. The Commission said that “spiritual violence occurs when a person’s spiritual or religious tradition, beliefs, or practices are demeaned or belittled or when a person is made to feel shame for practising his or her traditional or family beliefs.” It also said that spiritual violence occurs when a different spiritual or religious path or practice is forced on a person or a person is not permitted to follow his or her preferred spiritual or religious tradition. The Commission observed that Indigenous peoples continue to experience spiritual violence.

Responsibility for addressing spiritual violence committed in the name of Christ rests with those who attend to spiritual matters. Indigenous spiritual leaders engage in this work every day. Governments may support this work by funding healing programs, but as secular bodies they cannot be expected to take a leading role. Churches need to focus on what their teachings require of them in response. This extends beyond the spiritual violence linked to residential schools to all spiritual violence related to the conduct of Christian mission and ministry among Indigenous peoples in Canada.

McKay urged that work to address spiritual violence and promote spiritual healing be approached ecumenically. United Church staff are giving leadership to this work. An ecumenical team has been engaged in theological reflection and analysis and is developing principles or guidelines to assist churches in supporting Indigenous peoples in their spiritual healing journeys, and prevent spiritual violence in the future. This will support community level work on spiritual healing as pandemic restrictions are lifted.

For more information, contact Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice Animator Lori Ransom.

Journey From Fisher River: Stan McKay’s Story

 

"The greatest learnings I have had are from the Elders, who have persevered in serving the church in spite of the terrible oppression that many have experienced in their families, with children and grandchildren. They have taught me humility, living with grace in the midst of oppression, finding justice with joy, and learning strength through gentleness." —Stan McKay, Journey from Fisher River

This past fall, the United Church Publishing House published a second, revised edition of Journey from Fisher River, a biography of Stan McKay, the first Indigenous Moderator of the United Church. This second edition was initiated by the Fisher River Cree Nation as part of their Reconciliation Project, as a way to share the powerful stories of Fisher River community members like Stan McKay with younger generations, to strengthen their sense of identity as Indigenous people and members of Fisher River Cree Nation.

Journey from Fisher River is now available as an e-book or in softcover from the United Church Bookstore (UCRDstore.ca). Use the code JOURNEY5 to receive a 10% discount for the softcover and the e-book of Journey from Fisher River.

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