August 9 each year is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, as declared by the United Nations.
There are an estimated 370 million Indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. While making up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, they account for 15 per cent of the poorest people in the world. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.
Presbyterians are invited to mark the day in two ways:
1. Speak Up for Clean Potable Water
In Canada, Indigenous communities are frequently without safe and clean drinking water. The United Nations recognizes access to clean drinking water as an essential human right.
The 2017 General Assembly of The Presbyterian Church in Canada asked the Moderator to write a letter to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, to inquire about the Government of Canada’s progress in providing clean and potable water in Indigenous communities that remain under boil water advisories. That letter was sent in early August. The Assembly also encouraged sessions and presbyteries to write to local members of Parliament encouraging support from all parliamentarians for the Government of Canada’s commitment to clean and potable water in every Indigenous community.
Individual Presbyterians are also invited to speak up for clean water by writing to your Member of Parliament, asking them to support and encourage the Government of Canada in its commitment to provide clean potable water by the end of 2021 in every Indigenous community south of the 60th parallel.
2. Pray for Indigenous People
Please pray for Indigenous people in Canada and around the world.
God of rocks and rivers, animals and birds, trees and plants that provide food and medicine, we thank you for the good earth you have made.
We thank you for the original inhabitants of the land, who learned its shape, discovered ways to live on and with the land and the environment. Open our ears to the wisdom of those who have lived on and learned from the land, which you have made.
We celebrate the range of cultures and languages lived out by the Indigenous people of the world. We thank you for the opportunities that are ours to connect with and walk together with the Indigenous peoples of the world, of Canada, and in our community.
We pray for the Indigenous people of the world that:
where their languages are oppressed, they would be given freedom to speak their language;
where their access to traditional lands are ignored or abused, they would find their rights restored;
where they face discrimination and the pressure to assimilate into the dominant culture, they would find their difference seen as a blessing and their diversity encouraged; and
where they have been hurt and harmed, they would find individuals and governments prepared to apologize and to seek good ways of walking together.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us that we might be agents of the transformation we have prayed for, working with you in our communities, in Canada, and throughout the world.
We thank you for the many of the world’s Indigenous people who are our sisters and brothers in following Jesus Christ. And in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.