All this from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
- Visit Ministries with Aboriginal Peoples
- Read our statement on Aboriginal Spiritual Practices, based on Our Confession (1994) and other material that has been part of our journey of healing and reconciliation.
While all the Calls to Action are significant for all Canadians, there are those that directly name the churches. What do these specific Calls to Action mean and how are Presbyterians responding? Our Church Responds.
Why Truth and Reconciliation Matters to Presbyterians
In 1994, The Presbyterian Church in Canada confessed its role in the tragic legacy of the Indian residential schools. The church is committed to walking with Aboriginal people on a journey toward reconciliation, and living out the spirit of the confession.
This video contains messages from Presbyterians from across Canada about why truth and reconciliation is important to them. A copy was presented as an expression of reconciliation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission by the Moderator of the 138th General Assembly, the Rev. Dr. John Vissers, at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s national event in Saskatoon (June 21-24, 2012). A shorter version of this video was shown at the 138th General Assembly (June 2012).
If you are a Presbyterian who believes that truth and reconciliation is important and wish to submit a short video clip that will be added to the Healing & Reconciliation webpage, email Katharine Masterton in Justice Ministries or call 1-800-619-7301 ext. 250.
In January 2013 several members of the congregation met to plan events for 2013. Idle No More was chosen as a theme because of its importance and interest to our community.
We organized a breakfast and panel discussion. Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of KAIROS was invited as a panelist. Andrew Wesley, another panelist, is a member of Omushkagowuk Nation and attended a residential school. He is a chaplain at Council Fire in Toronto and an Associate Priest at The Church of The Redeemer. Lori Ransom, Presbyterian elder and member of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan of Eastern Ontario, moderated. We were delighted to have 92 people attend.
The event opened with an acknowledgement that the church is in the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. Andrew offered a traditional greeting, including prayers of the Four Directions.
He told stories demonstrating the importance of the land and animals. He reflected on 1 Kings 1:3, Nabob’s vineyard, in which Nabob states, when asked by Ahab for his vineyard: “The Lord forbid that I should give you my ancestral inheritance.” Andrew challenged participants to consider: “What is your theology of land? What does Christian faith have to say about land management? Where is God in all of this?” He reminded us to acknowledge the Creator.
Jennifer Henry spoke about KAIROS’ Indigenous Rights program which emphasizes the need to establish right relationships, speak up against aggressive resource extraction, unsustainable land use, and to be in solidarity with Women in Spirit, a movement begun by Indigenous women calling for an inquiry into the hundreds of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Jennifer said that this is a process of the heart – with God’s help we can be transformed. Jennifer challenged participants to consider “What is God’s spirit asking us to do about the crisis faced by many Aboriginal communities?” She emphasized seeking justice. She believes that her ancestors, who settled on Turtle Island (North America), were welcomed and would not have survived without help from Indigenous people.
The Idle No More movement was begun by four women to protest legislation they feared would erode Aboriginal land rights. Indigenous people are bringing a prophetic message saying we are disconnected from the land. Jennifer challenged us to acknowledge the traditional Indigenous territories on which our church is built, on church signs and in bulletins. Fallingbrook Presbyterian Church ran KAIROS’ Blanket Exercise after the worship service on June 2. We encourage people to join KAIROS.
On January 26, 2013, 18 Presbyterians travelled to Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal to meet with members of the community. This visit was a part of a local leaders training initiative hosted at Maplewood PC in Chateauguay, QC. This was a local leaders training initiative organized for Presbyterians in Montreal. Local leaders’ training takes place several times per year. Participants learn about the history of the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, including Residential Schools, and cultural teachings and current affairs.
The Blanket Exercise
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise explores the nation-to-nation relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. Blankets arranged on the floor represent the land. Participants begin to see the impact that colonization and loss of land has had on Aboriginal people as the blankets are folded up and removed. The activity invites participants to consider how to begin to heal broken relationships and what their next steps toward reconciliation will be.
Healing & Reconciliation E-Newsletter
It’s time for hope: Read the latest Healing & Reconciliation E-Newsletter. Don’t want to miss the next edition? Subscribe today.
Liturgical resources, including suggested orders of service, sermon illustrations, church school activities, bible study, and prayers are available in two liturgical resources.
- We are One in the Spirit (2010)
- Healing & Reconciliation Liturgical Kit (2007)
- Healing & Reconciliation Sermons for Study and Worship
The Healing & Reconciliation program offers funding up to $5,000 for Presbyterians wishing to build relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. You may wish to invite an Aboriginal Elder to speak with a small group or organize a trip to a local Native Friendship Centre.
Click the links below to read about relationship building initiatives:
- Local Leaders Training – Knox Presbyterian and Curve Lake First Nation Culture Centre
- Camp Christopher and Riverside Community School, Prince Albert, SK
- Healing & Reconciliation story from St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Bradford, ON. Read from “Schools share their cultures.”
- St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church reaches out to Native Canadian Centre (Bramalea, ON)
Healing & Reconciliation Seed Fund
The Healing & Reconciliation program offers funding up to $5,000 for Presbyterians wishing to build relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. The Seed Fund Application deadline is Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
Please remember that funding is available to support a large range of projects:
- Small fellowship gatherings are very powerful means to begin forming relationships, and are therefore highly recommended.
- Groups who already have some connections with Aboriginal people or communities, or groups who are keen to begin with something on larger scale, may be draw to one of the more ambitious ideas listed below.
You may wish to:
- Invite an Aboriginal speaker or Aboriginal Elder to talk to members of your group, including youth groups, on any topic of interest such as Aboriginal history, culture, or modern day concerns. You may wish to have a discussion about the needs of your community with a local Aboriginal leader of a community group or service organization.
- If no potential speakers are known to your group, a local Native Friendship Centre, Native Women’s organization, or post-secondary campus Aboriginal association may be of assistance. If you are near a First Nation community, you may wish to try contacting a First Nation Band Administrator or, if available, a First Nation Education or Cultural Officer for assistance. A teacher from a First Nation school or an Aboriginal university professor or lecturer may work in or near your community and be available to speak or lead a workshop.
- Have an informal social or recreational gathering and invite representatives of a local Native Friendship Centre, Native Women’s organization, local First Nation or Métis community, or other Aboriginal group to join you. This includes sports or cultural activities for adults or youth groups.
- Talk to an Aboriginal service group in your community. Perhaps there is a joint project members of your group and the Aboriginal group can work on together, providing an opportunity for you to get to know each other better in the process. Funds could buy some supplies to assist with completing the project, and/or provide some refreshments while you work together to complete the project.
- Arrange a visit to a local Aboriginal community to learn about your neighbours first hand. This could include talking with leaders in the community (i.e. political, social, cultural, or educational leaders), taking a tour, and/or attending a pow wow or other cultural event or spiritual ceremony accompanied by Aboriginal people. Funds could be used to support modest travel costs. Remember that funding is designed to support relationship building, so it is important that any Aboriginal community visited be close enough geographically that relationships may be maintained and developed in the future between your group and the community.
- Work with a group of local churches to organize a workshop or even a conference.
- Funds could be used to pay a portion of event costs: venue rental (if necessary), food, honoraria for speakers/workshop leaders. Emphasis should be on building bridges at the local level.
Put your imagination to work to come up with something that’s just right for you and your group!
Building Relationships in Constance Lake
The congregation at Living Faith Community Presbyterian Church in Baxter, ON, has participated in a long-standing “back-pack” ministry with the Mamawmatawa Holistic Education Centre in Constance Lake First Nation, north of Hearst, ON, providing back-packs filled with school supplies, clothing and books.
Last year, at the invitation of the Education Centre, members of Living Faith’s AMPed senior youth group took an 11-hour bus ride north to Constance Lake to run an After School Club and Family Night in the hopes of providing a bit of fun in the midst of the difficult winter months. Last year’s friendships were strengthened and new friendships were formed when AMPed returned to Constance Lake First Nation this past March, again providing an After School Club, helping out in the classrooms and library, and leading a “Despicable Me”-themed Family Night. Plans are already being made to return to Constance Lake next year to continue building these important relationships.