Call to Action # 46: Actions and Commitments

Official Response of Church Parties

March 30, 2016

“An Ecumenical Statement on UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the Framework for Reconciliation”

Today we embrace the opportunity that Call to Action #48 offers faith communities to work for reconciliation and to fully respect the human rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Signed by:

  • Anglican Church of Canada
  • Christian Reformed Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
  • he Presbyterian Church in Canada
  • Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • The Salvation Army
    The United Church of Canada

June 2, 2015

Response of the Churches to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Roman Catholic Entities Parties to the Settlement Agreement, The United Church of Canada and the Jesuits of English Canada make the following statement in response to the findings and Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

It is with gratitude and humility that we are here today to speak together as representatives of churches that participated in the operation of Indian Residential Schools.  We are grateful to the Commissioners and staff of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada for the commitment with which they have carried out their mandate, and we are humbled in the knowledge that we continue to share a responsibility to ensure that the task of reconciliation does not end today.

Beginning in the 19th century and continuing until the late 1960’s, our churches were partners with the Government of Canada in running Indian Residential Schools. Notwithstanding the good intent and care of many who worked in the Schools, it is clear that Indian Residential Schools, in policy and in practice, were an assault on Indigenous families, culture, language and spiritual traditions, and that great harm was done. We continue to acknowledge and regret our part in that legacy.

  • We acknowledge and welcome the specific calls to action that offer direction to the churches in our continuing commitment to reconciliation. In particular, we are committed to respect Indigenous spiritual traditions in their own right.
  • As individual churches and in shared interfaith and ecumenical initiatives – for example through Kairos, through interfaith groups, and through the Canadian Council of Churches – we will continue to foster learning about and awareness of the reality and legacy of the residential schools, the negative impact of such past teachings as the Doctrine of Discovery, and the new ways forward found in places, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • We will continue our commitment to financial support for community-controlled initiatives in healing, language and cultural revitalization, education and relationship-building, and self-determination.
  • We welcome the Commissioners’ call to the parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement for a new Covenant of Reconciliation that would renew and expand our shared commitment to the continuing work of reconciliation, and invite others into that work, including new Canadians, who, while they were not part of the historic injustice, are now part of a country in which understanding and addressing that injustice is a national priority for all Canadians.
  • We also welcome wider Calls to Action that include our members as citizens and residents of Canada. There is a crucial need for the kinds of public and governmental initiatives that the Commissioners identify, including the establishment of a National Council of Reconciliation that would continue to hold this work before parliament and the Canadian people.
  • We recognize the need for equity in access to education and health care, and the critical need for new and culturally-appropriate ways of ensuring the welfare of children who are at risk.
  • And we enthusiastically support the call for teaching about the history and legacy of the residential schools in all Canadian schools, and commit ourselves to ensuring that the teaching ministry of our churches also acknowledges these realities.

Above all, we welcome the Commissioners’ Calls to Action as providing the basis for a wide and transformative conversation among Canadians about the better future we intend to foster, not just for Indigenous peoples, but for all of us who long to live in a society grounded in right relationships and equity.

We will continue to share in the work of healing and reconciliation, respectfully following the leadership of Indigenous communities and leaders, and to offer leadership among non-Indigenous Canadians where that is appropriate.