Aboriginal Relations Ministry – Annual Report 2016
“It has been a real privilege to be in ministry with all of you at KUC since September as we have embarked on a new ministry experience. The time has been extremely valuable for me in my personal learning and I believe it has also kindled some excellent links between the congregation and the aboriginal community.
Walking with aboriginal neighbours in right relations is a long and arduous process given our Canadian History all the way back to colonial times. We need to be patient and not set out expectations too high from the outset. I have learned that it is the process we engage in as we walk through invitation to dialogue that is the most critical. In this I am reminded of Justice Sinclair’s comments on the sunset of the TRC work, “We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you a path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing.” We have begun this walk with honesty, integrity and a willingness to look at our history and privilege in relationship with Aboriginal Peoples.
We have begun this walk together in listening to the stories through recorded video clips, webinars, a major gathering at the Brown Centre (TRU), Sunday Worship and Wéytk Wednesdays. We have participated through a “Blanket Exercise,” the Reconciliation Circle and dialogue with aboriginal guests. We have opened our minds to new possibilities and have been hearing with our hearts.
The prophet Isaiah reminded us to “learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. (1:17) Our United Church “Living into Right Relations” asks that we walk the healing path with Canada’s First Peoples. We have made a great start in doing just that!”
“Thank you all for your enthusiasm and participation, Kukwstsétselp, Ian”
June 11, 2016: “Stories of Resilience” Kamloops Pow-wow Grounds
All are invited to attend “Stories of Resilience” on Saturday, June 11th, from 11:30 to 3:00 PM at the Tk’emlups (Kamloops Pow Wow Grounds).
This event marks the 7th anniversary of the Government of Canada’s official apology to Residential Schools survivors.
There will be several guest speakers offering “Stories of Resilience.” These will be reflections of how trauma of residential schools was managed and how life has moved forward in positive ways.
Kamloops United Church is supporting this event.
Please click on the link below to see the poster for this event:
“Building Right Relations with Aboriginal Peoples”
A “Reconciliation Circle” began Tuesday, January 26, at 7:00 pm in the KUC Hall. The circle is led by Richard Wagamese, Ojibway author. This is a time for spiritual grounding, sharing our life journeys, hopes, dreams and concerns in a safe and inclusive environment. All are welcome!
On January 20, Richard Wagamese spoke about “The Face of Reconciliation” at Thompson Rivers University in the Irving K. Barber Center.
KUC Vision: In our ministry vision for the future, Kamloops United Church is committed to being a Centre for Community and Spiritual Discovery.
A key element of this ministry is working together with Aboriginal Peoples building trusting relationships and enhancing partnerships through dialogue and interaction. This ministry is not seen as isolated to the faith community alone but intends to engage local and regional First Nations as well as community and political organizations. United Church of Canada Focus Following formal apologies to residential school survivors by the United Church, a “Living into Right Relations Initiative” began in 2008. This initiative paralleled the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work. It set out to explore, develop, and nurture just and respectful relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across our church on a five-year journey, http://www.united-church.ca/files/aboriginal/relationships/lirr-report.pdf The United Church continues its commitment to the journey of reconciliation as reflected in part by six commitments announced in 2014 by former United Church moderator Gary Paterson and published in the document Truth and Reconciliation – Living our Commitments.
- These commitments are:continue the spiritual practices of listening and learning, healing and reparation, until relationships are in balance—respectful, just, and healthy
- denounce the racism that continues in the church and in Canadian society, name the destructive attitudes and policies that arise from that sin, and work for equity and justice
- ensure the full involvement of Aboriginal people in all decisions that affect them
- support the long, hard, step-by-step process of recovering language and culture
- participate in working to implement the recommendations the TRC will issue in its Final Report
- pray that our actions will match our words, and together we will continue the journey toward a richer, deeper embodiment of All My Relations (the Mohawk words on our United Church crest)
Some “Very Brief” History It is publicaly acknowledged that the history of Canada’s First Peoples has been one of oppression, abuse, marginalization, and manipulation. Since settlers first came to Canada Aboriginal Peoples have been stripped of land holdings and forced to abandon their heritage, language, religion and culture in attempts to “assimilate” them into “white” society. In 1920 the Government of Canada made it mandatory for all native children between the ages of seven and fifteen to attend one of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. The Minister of Indian Affairs at the time, Dr. Duncan Campbell Scott voiced what has become an infamous if not repugnant quote introducing a new bill to the House of Commons.
“I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill.” (sic: Dr. Duncan Campbell Scott, Minister of Indian Affairs, 1920) http://www.danielnpaul.com/IndianResidentialSchools.html
From that time until 1996 these assimilation attempts continued through the Residential School system where Aboriginal children were taken from their homes and families forcibly and kept in residency. Through the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) process we, of course, now know of the abuse inflicted on thousands or young people . The final report of the TRC challenges us to reconcile past wrongs and work together to build “right relationships” with Canada’s First Peoples. http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/index.php?p=890 In its final report the commission noted this statement by one of the honorary witnesses,
“A just reconciliation requires more than simply talking about the need to heal the deep wounds of history. Words of apology alone are insufficient; concrete actions on both symbolic and material fronts are required. In every region of the country, survivors and others have sent a strong message, as received by this Commission: for reconciliation to thrive in the coming years, Canada must move from apology to action.” http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Exec_Summary_2015_05_31_web_o.pdf
It is the hope of Kamloops United Church, through the “Building Right Relations with Aboriginal Peoples” project, that we can begin to move forward positively with First Nations People in and around our region in dialogue toward healing past wrongs. The Churches in Canada have apologized for our participation in the Residential School System, now indeed is time to move from apology to action. Where will this Aboriginal Ministry be focused? Led by Ian McLean, a Diaconal Ministry student, our intention is to focus on both education and collaboration. We plan to offer opportunities for interested individuals both within and outside the congregation to engage in discovery. We plan to review the Canadian role in colonization as it affected Native Peoples, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities have been necessary. We will be exploring ways in which we can become more familiar with aboriginal traditional spirituality through dialogue with aboriginal leaders and those skilled in indigenous spirituality. Through dialogue and joint activities with aboriginal neighbours, we hope to discern what healing and moving forward in right relations looks like and to begin that long journey. There will be opportunities during this ministry project for individuals in the church and in the wider community to participate and be involved. Connect and be Involved! As the Aboriginal Ministry project unfolds we will post events on the website and we invite you to engage and participate.
We hope you might become engaged in this vital ministry project! Peace and Blessings