Healing & Reconciliation Banner image
All this from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

Click here to learn more about the PCC’s ministries with Aboriginal Peoples

Advent 2013/New Year 2014 Book Suggestion


James Daschuk presents a troubling history of the loss of Indigenous life and culture in North America in his book “Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life.” Please email David Phillips if you have read this book. Click here for more suggested reading.

Change of Heart: Show us what a new relationship with Aboriginal peoples looks and feels like

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.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission National Events

Read about the Truth and Reconciliation Event in Edmonton – March 27-30

The sixth national Truth and Reconciliation Commission event was held September 17-22, 2013, in Vancouver, BC.

The Moderator offered a gesture of Reconciliation here are his comments.

The national events are opportunities to celebrate diversity and honour those touched by residential schools. They engage the public and provide education about the history of the residential schools system, the experience of former students and their families, and the ongoing legacies.

Written by Joan Smith, former President of the Women’s Missionary Society,Toronto, ON.
For the past year, two ideas have been going around and around in my mind: “take the Indian out of the child” and “for the child taken, for the parent left behind.” The first was Canadian policy, underscoring the purpose of the residential schools system. The second is the theme for the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) national events being held across Canada. By establishing a national memory about residential schools, the TRC is ensuring that no one can say “this never happened.”

Little did I know how attending two national TRC events would affect my life. I was one who would wonder, sometimes out loud, “why don’t Aboriginal peoples just let things go and get on with their lives?” Why did something that happened some generations ago have such a negative effect on their way of life?

I first attended a TRC national event in Saskatoon SK in June 2012 as a member of the Women’s Missionary Society’s delegation. We were there to hear the experiences and stories of survivors of residential schools and their families. After listening to these heart-rending stories, my attitude changed. I realized that we were there to grieve the past with them, ask for forgiveness and break down barriers. We often listened through tears, along with the survivors and others who attended. It was difficult to hear about the “take the Indian out of the child” policy. It was difficult to hear how they were referred to as savages and that their way of life was not considered human. It was difficult to hear how the children felt abandoned, and about the physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual abuse suffered by many. At the Saskatoon and Montreal TRC (which I also attended) events, we witnessed extraordinary courage by the survivors and their families as they spoke publicly about what they had suffered.

Many survivors spoke about not knowing how to love their own families after being deprived of love themselves. Some survivors said that if it had not been for supportive partners and families in later years, they would not have survived.

That some survivors continued in a Christian faith, after being told that their experiences at residential school were “God’s way,” amazes me. Many were told that the God they believed in was not the true God. It was amazing how some of them, in their statements before the Commission, expressed their love for God and how they were able to continue living with God’s help.

If you have the opportunity to attend at least one of the remaining events in Vancouver (September 18-21, 2013) or Edmonton (March 27-30, 2014) or the closing ceremonies in Ottawa (June 2014), I urge you to attend. It will change your life and your perspective while you witness the simple truths of the Sacred Fire and the resilience of survivors who carry on.


View the Truth and Reconciliation Interim Report

The TRC national event in Saskatoon took place June 21-24, 2012. View the photo gallery.

Liturgical Resources

Curve Lake Training EventLiturgical resources, including suggested orders of service, sermon illustrations, church school activities, bible study, and prayers are available in two liturgical resources.

Also, use the Blanket Exercise as an interactive way to explore the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.

More Justice Ministries resources


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 next Seed Fund Application deadline is January 31, 2014.

Healing & Reconciliation Seed Fund Criteria

Seed Fund Application

Seed Fund Follow-Up Initiatives

Native Ministries Fund

This fund is specifically for Canadian Presbyterian Native Ministries. It was established for those represented on the National Native Ministries Committee of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.

Funding is available to support activities in a number of ways, including but not limited to providing for refreshments or meals; purchasing supplies; and/or paying honoraria to Aboriginal speakers or workshop leaders.
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!


Latest News

Workshop for Commemorating the Anniversary of the Confession to Aboriginal Peoples

Commissioners of the 139th General Assembly (2013) were asked to suggest ideas to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Confession in 2014. This is a summary of their ideas.

Written by Rosemary Anderson, Fallingbrook Presbyterian Church, Toronto, ON.

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.

Local Relationship BuildingHealing and Reconciliation

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:

Becoming neighbours: stories about healing and reconciliation


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.

Healing and Reconciliation Reading List

A Fair Country, Saul, John, Ralston (Penguin Canada/2009)
A History of Native Residential Schools, J.R. Miller (University of Toronto Press/1996)
A National Crime, J.S. Milloy (University of Manitoba Press/1999)
A Native American Theology, Kidwell, Homer, Tinker (Orbis Books/2001)
A Stranger at Home, Christy Jordan-Fenton (Annick Press/2011)
Aboriginal Peoples: Building for the Future, Kevin Reed (Oxford University Press/1998)
Aboriginal Spirituality & Biblical Theology, John W. Friesen (Detseling Enterprises/2000)
An Illustrated History of Canada’s Native People, Arthur J. Ray (McGill-Queen’s University Press)
Anishnaabe World, Roger Spielman (Your Scrivener Press/2009)
Breaking the Silence, AFN (Assembly of First Nations/1994)
Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools, Theodore Fontaine (Heritage House Publishing/2010)
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, Dee Brown (Holt, Rinehart and Winston/1970)
Canada’s First Nations, O.P. Dickason Oxford University Press/1997)
Christ is a Native American, Achiel Peelman (Orbis Books/1995)
Circleworks: Transforming Eurocentric Consciousness, Fyre Jean Graveline (Fernwood Publishing/1998)
Citizens Plus, J.R. Miller (University of Toronto Press/2009)
Collection of Life Stories of the Survivors of the Quebec Residential School System, Marie-Therese Dumont (First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services)
Colonizing Bodies, Mary-Ellen Kelm (UBC Press/1999)
Come Walk With Me: A Memoir, Beatrice Mosionier (High Water Press/2009)
Compact, Contract, Covenant, J.R. Miller(University of Toronto Press/2003)
Dancing On Our Turtle’s Back, Leanne Simpson (Arbeiter Ring Publishing)
Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry, Widdison & Howard (McGill/Queens University Press/2008)
Dream Catchers, Philip Jenkins (Oxford/ 2004)
Fatty Legs, Christy Jordan-Fenton (Annick Press/2010)
Feasting with Mine Enemy, Rosman & Rubel (Waveland Printing/1986)
Finding My Talk, Agnes Grant (Fifth House Books/2004)
First Nations Education in Canada, Battiste & Barman (UBC Press/1995)
First Peoples in Canada, McMillan & Yellowhorn (Douglas & McIntyre Publishers/1988)
Flint and Feather, E. Pauline Johnson (Hayes.Barton/1912)
From the Iron House: Imprisonment in First Nations Writing, Deena Rymhs (Wilfrid Laurier University Press/2008)
Full Circle: Canada’s First Nations, Steckley & Cummins (Prentice Hall/2001)
God is Red, Vince Deloria (Fulcrum Publishing/1994)
Goodbye Buffalo Bay, Larry Loyie (Theytus Books/2012)
Healing Spiritual Abuse, Ken Blue (Inter Varsity Press/1993)
In Peace and Friendship, KAIROS (KAIROS/Second Edition)
In Search of April Raintree, Beatrice Mosionier(Portage and Main Press/1999)
Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese (Douglas and McIntyre/2012)
Indian Legends of Vancouver Island, Alfred Carmichael (The Musson Book Company/1922)
Indian School Days, Basil H. Johnston (University of Oklahoma Press/1989)
Keeper’n Me, Richard Wagamese (Anchor Canada/2006)
Last Standing Woman, Winona LaDuke (Voyageur Press/1997)
Manitowapow, Sinclair & Cariou (Highwater Press/2011)
Motorcycles and Sweetgrass, Drew Hayden-Taylor (Knopf Canada/2010)
Nation to Nation, Bird Engelstad (Anansi/1992)
Nation to Nation, Bird, Land, MacAdam (Irwin Publishing/2001)
Native American Religious Identity, Jace Weaver (Orbis Books/1998)
Native Peoples of the Northwest, Halliday & Chehak (Sasquatch Books/1996)
Native Poetry in Canada: A Contemporary Anthology, Armstrong & Grauer (Broadview Press/2001)
One Church, Many Tribes, Richard Twiss (Regal Books/2000)
One Native Life, Richard Wagamese (Douglas and McIntyre/2008)
Out of Muskoka, James K. Bartlemann (Penumbra Press/2002)
Potlatch People: Indian Lives and Legends of British Columbia, Mildred Valley Thornton (Hancock House Publishers/2000)
Prison of Grass, Howard, Adams (Fifth House Publishers/1989)
Reconstructing Native Womanhood, Kirk, Anderson (Second Story Press/2000)
Resistance and Renewal, Celia Haig-Brown (Arsenal Press/1998)
Return to the Teachings, Rupert Ross (Penguin/2006)
Sacred Feathers, Donald Smith (University of Toronto Press/1995 – reprint)
Saik’uz Woman (Stoney Creek Woman), Bridget Moran (Arsenal Pulp Press/1998)
Speaking My Truth: Reflections on Reconciliation and Residential Schools, Shelagh Rogers, et al. (Aboriginal Healing Foundation/2012)
Stolen Continents: The “New World” Through Indian Eyes, Ronald Wright (Houghton Mifflin/1992)
Stolen From Our Embrace, Crey & Fournier (Douglas and McIntyre/1998)
Tecumseh and Brock: The War of 1812, James Laxer (House of Anansi Press Inc./2012)
The Circle Game, Chrisjohn & Young (Theytus Books/1995)
The First Nations of British Columbia, Robert Mucklet (UBC Press/2007)
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Thomas King (Doubleday Canada/2012)
The Last Shall Be First, Murray Angus (NC Press/1991)
The Legacy of School For Aboriginal People, Schissel & Wotherspoon (Oxford University Press/2003)
The Moccasin Maker, E. Pauline Johnson (Kessinger Publishing/2010 – reprint)
The Next Sure Thing, Richard Wagamese (Raven Books/2011)
The Night Wanderer, Drew Hayden-Taylor (Annick Pulp Press/ 2007)
The No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous People, Lotte Hughes (New Internationalist Publications/2003)
The Red Indians, Peter Kulchyski (Arbeiter Ring Publishing/2007)
The Treaties of Canada with the Indians, Alexander Morris (Bedfords, Clarke & Company/1880)
The Truth about Stories: a Native Narrative, Thomas King (Dead Dog Café Productions/2003)
They Came for the Children, TRC (The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada)
Three Day Road, Joseph Boyden (Penguin Canada/2005)
Through Black Spruce, Joseph Boyden (Penguin Canada/2008)
Truth and Bright Water, Thomas King (Grove Press/2001)
Unsettling The Settler Within, Paulette Regan (UBC Press/2010)
Voices from the Sound, Margaret Horsfield (Salal Books/ 2009)
Waterlily, Ella Cara Deloria (Bison Books/1990)
Wawahte, Robert B. Wells (Trafford Publishing 2012)
When the Other is Me: Native Resistance Discourse 1850-1990, Emma LaRocque (University of Manitoba Press/2010)
Whispering in Shadows, Jeanette, Armstrong (Theytus Books/2000)