Joint ELCIC Bishops’ Letter: A Renewed Call to Reconciliation
June 1, 2021 – It has been devastating and heartbreaking to hear in the news that the remains of 215 children buried in unmarked graves have been found on the Kamloops Indian Residential School grounds.
In Plain Sight
In response to allegations of health care professionals exhibiting racist behaviour towards Indigenous people, the Honourable Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond completed a review of Indigenous-specific racism in the BC health care system and released a report in November 2020. You are encouraged to read this report and/or summary to learn about the acts of racism and discrimination many Indigenous people in BC have, and continue to, experience. How might you as a member of the BC Synod feel called to respond to this injustice?
Click here to download In Plain Sight
Hyslop, Katie (2020, Feb 14).Wet’suwet’en Crisis: Whose Rule of Law? Explained: The complex clash of legal authority, and histories, behind today’s standoffs. TheTyee.ca. This article provides a brief history and explanation of land rights in British Columbia and offers a helpful primer that considers the underlying factors that shape the current situation, which are: the injunction; hereditary chiefs and band councils; previous court rulings; past standoffs and the shifting local context; UNDRIP; and what is next for the courts.
If you are interested in the nature of the injunction, beginning in 2018, as described in the local press, see an article cycled through The Hub (2018, Dec. 24). Judge expands Coastal GasLink injunction against pipeline blockade. Prince George Citizen. https://www.jwnenergy.com/article/2018/12/judge-expands-coastal-gaslink-injunction-against-pipeline-blockade/
Carleton, Sean. (2020, Feb. 11). Putting the RCMP raid on the Wet’suwet’en in historical perspective. The Star. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/02/11/putting-the-rcmp-raid-on-the-wetsuweten-in-historical-perspective.html
In this piece, Carleton connects the growing militarization of policing to its historical roots as an agency of colonial government to suppress, if not eliminate, Indigenous resistance.
Justice, Daniel Heath. (2020, Sept. 19). Settlers with Opinions. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/settlers-with-opinions-83338
Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture at the University of British Columbia, Justice provides a candid editorial on how settlers, primarily white men, offer their opinions on Indigenous issues without being particularly well-read or having any training in “any relevant profession or scholarly discipline that would give some credibility” to their claims. The article is a helpful introduction to the way racism operates, highlighting how many non-Indigenous people speak on Indigenous matters without any personal connection or investment in addressing Indigenous concerns.
Bracken, Amber (2020, Feb. 14). The Wet’suwet’en are more united than pipeline backers want you to think. Maclean’s.https://www.macleans.ca/opinion/the-wetsuweten-are-more-united-than-pipeline-backers-want-you-to-think/
While there is a great deal of media that discusses Indigenous people as “divided” on the issues surrounding Coastal Gaslink and Wet’suwet’en territory, Bracken argues that Indigenous leadership is actually united in its attempts to represent the needs of their people. She argues that the Premier and media have grossly oversimplified Indigenous interests and contends that Indigenous efforts to resist oppression, while multifaceted, is a goal of all Indigenous leadership. This has been a long standing tactic of colonialists: divide and conquer.
Gunn, Kate & McIvor, Bruce. (2020, Feb. 13). The Wet’suwet’en, Aboriginal Title, and the Rule of Law: An Explainer. https://www.firstpeopleslaw.com/index/articles/438.php
These lawyers offer a brief explanation of how Aboriginal title functions in relation to the Indian Act and how power and voice operate (and don’t operate) within Indigenous land contexts.
Bracken, Amber. (2020, Jan. 14). They are erasing our history’: Indigenous sites buried under Coastal GasLink pipeline infrastructure. The Narwhal. https://thenarwhal.ca/they-are-erasing-our-history-Indigenous-sites-buried-under-coastal-gaslink-pipeline-infrastructure/
Many might be unfamiliar with the physical territory of the Wet’suwet’en. This article describes an area, theKweese War Trail, that has been specifically impacted by the LNG project.
Kurjata, Andrew (@kurjata) (2020,Feb.16). https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1228844031729373191.html
Journalist Andrew Kurjata has an interesting tweet thread that examines the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs’ proposed alternative route for the Coastal Gaslink pipeline. His exploration reveals a number of contradictory arguments made by CG in defense of their chosen route while revealing a number of other, complex, nuances in how this project has unfolded.
For those who wish to actively support the Wet’suwet’en through donations, statements, etc, http://unistoten.camp/supportertoolkit2020/
Other Suggested Readings: These are starting points for improving our understanding of racism, injustices to Indigenous People, and narratives produced by Indigenous people.
1. DiAngelo, R. J. (2018). White fragility: Why it’s so hard for White people to talk about racism. Beacon Press.
2. King, T. (2013). The Inconvenient Indian: A curious account of native people in North America. University of Minnesota Press.
3. Orange, T. (2018). There there. Knopf.
4. Talaga, T. (2017). Seven fallen feathers: Racism, death, and hard truths in a northern city. Anansi.
5. Wilson-Raybould, J. (2019). From where I stand: Rebuilding Indigenous Nations for a Stronger Canada. Purich Books, an imprint of UBC Press.
Information regarding resource person Carolyn Klaassen
Click here to download
Suggested Resources from the Journey towards Reconciliation Facilitation Team.
Click here to download
From the BC Synod’s “Journey Towards Reconciliation Working Group”:
We stand in support of the Wet’suwet’en Nation and invite you to read the KAIROS statement which also represents the ELCIC. In peace, the BC Synod “Journey Towards Reconciliation Working Group.”
For full statement check out the following link:
Excerpt from the KAIROS statement: “KAIROS stands with the Wet’suwet’en Peoples in asserting these rights and calls on government and industry to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples as expressed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Reconciliation Canada also has a newsletter they send out monthly if anyone wants to receive it. It has good information on events that are happening and of resources that may be of use to us as we move along this journey to reconciliation.
Anglican Church of Canada Indigenous Ministries
Video re Doctrine of Discovery (study guide also available) https://youtu.be/mQwkB1hn5E8
Documentary: Reserve 107
This video follows a reconciliation process that took place in the province of Saskatchewan. Discussion guides also are available.
ELCIC Public Policy on Indigenous Rights and Relationships (from ELCIC website)
Liberated by God’s Grace, the ELCIC encourages all members and congregations to reflect upon our own national and church history, to seek greater understanding of the issues facing Indigenous peoples, and to walk with Indigenous peoples in their ongoing efforts to exercise their inherent sovereignty and fundamental human rights.
Canada is currently living in a historic moment for seeking truth and reconciliation. For the last 6 years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been listening to the stories and gathering the statements of survivors of the Indian Residential Schools and anyone else who feels they have been impacted by the schools and their legacy in order to hear and document the truth of what happened. The TRC has also been considering what is required for reconciliation. While the work of the TRC is concluding, the recommendations of the TRC will be a new call to form more respectful, just and equitable relationships. This involves both a deeper, more honest understanding of the history of colonialism and Indian Residential Schools, and addressing current issues of indigenous rights, climate change, resource extraction, poverty and racism.
In 2011, the ELCIC made a commit to promote right and renewed relationships between non-indigenous and Indigenous Peoples within Canada. In July, 2015, the ELCIC renewed this commitment to truth, reconciliation and equity by repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery.
We understand this to be both an urgent and a long-term commitment.
- Renew Relationships
- Strength for Climbing: Steps on the Journey of Reconciliation: a KAIROS resource
- Become more aware of the Territory where you live
- Government of Canada “First Nations Profile Interactive Map”
- Locally created resource highlighting ELCIC Congregations, First Nations communities, resource agencies and Residential School locations.
- Acknowledging Territory in Worship: a United Church of Canada resource
- Deepen your understanding of history
- Engage in Accompaniment and Advocacy
- Indigenous Ministries, Anglican Church of Canada
- Findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
- Let Justice Roll: Implement theUnited Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Canadian Council of Churches Undoing Racism Resources
- ELCIC statements