In a crowded Winnipeg hall last month, the Anglican Church of Canada and 10 other faith groups recommitted themselves to work for Aboriginal justice. This event, initiated by the ecumenical justice coalition KAIROS, renewed the 1987 agreement, A New Covenant: Towards the Constitutional Recognition and Protection of Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada, which upheld Aboriginals’ rights to self-determination, to be distinct peoples, and to have an adequate land base. Anglican Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, left, Evangelical Lutheran Bishop Raymond Schultz and Archbishop James Weisgerber, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Winnipeg, at the June 21 ceremony.
The simple ceremony was held at a joint gathering of the Anglican General Synod and the National Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada on June 21, National Aboriginal Day.
Faith group representatives took turns repeating a vow, with a team of three speaking for the Anglican Church of Canada: Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, then-Primate; Bishop Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Bishop; and Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk, of the diocese of the Arctic.
Archbishop Hutchison read this vow: ‘We commit the Anglican Church of Canada to the vision of a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples, based on sharing, respect and the recognition of rights and responsibilities.’
Revd Gloria Moses, co-chair of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, said the ceremony was a ‘very moving experience’ and a ‘highlight’ during a challenging synod. She also linked the ceremony to the recent appointment of the National Indigenous Bishop. ‘It’s a historical time for all indigenous people” she said, ‘I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime.’
Many Aboriginals witnessed the ceremony, including special guests President Clément Chartier, Métis National Council, and President David Chartrand, Manitoba Métis Federation. ‘You can’t overemphasize the good participation of Aboriginal peoples in this event’ said Ed Bianchi, aboriginal rights coordinator for KAIROS. ‘There is an understanding and realization that the church can play a major role in the journey towards Aboriginal justice.’
So what’s next on the journey? KAIROS is developing resources for its partners and reworking the covenant with Aboriginals’ input. But Mr. Bianchi points out that the ongoing work of building relationships is most important.
Revd Angus Sewap of Pelican Narrows, Sask., knows that this ongoing work is often challenging. ‘Some aboriginals like me don’t get paid for the work that we do, and many churches are going bankrupt,’ he said.
But the Anglican church has promised to support its partners through difficult times. Ellie Johnson, director of Partnerships, says the ceremony was ‘a public statement of our commitment to continue working towards Aboriginal justice, even in the face of dwindling resources and staffing.’ The Healing Fund, Indigenous Ministries, and the Indigenous Justice Working Group are all part of the Anglican church’s ongoing work.
The other faith groups who recommitted themselves were the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Council of Churches, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, KAIROS, the Mennonite Central Committee Canada, the Mennonite Church Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and the United Church of Canada.
Article from: ACC - by Ali Symons