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3 Connection
Presbyterian Connection is a quarterly newspaper published by the national office of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
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on the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat, Petun, Seneca and, most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit Indigenous peoples.
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 Working towards healing the harm caused by the church
South” (both North and South Ameri- ca) to the Spanish monarchs.
The Doctrine of Discovery codified belief in the supremacy of Christian European culture and empires. Later, other colonial powers such as Eng- land and France drew on this way of thinking to establish their own claims—and after the Reformation, this way of thinking continued to shape Protestant churches as well. These beliefs about how non-Europe- ans and non-Christians could be ex- ploited and were in need of Christian- izing (understood in a very specific European cultural way) accompanied Christian settlers, and Christian mis- sionaries, into the lands we now call Canada. As just one example, take the words of the Rev. James Nisbet, a Presbyterian missionary, to the “Sabbath schools.” He stated that simply seeing the work going on at the mission “must fill them [Indig- enous people] with an idea of the su- periority of the white people, and that may induce them to think well also of the religion white people bring to them.” (Letter from the Rev. James Nisbet, September 1869; The Home and Foreign Record of the Canada Presbyterian Church, No. 3, Vol IX, Presbyterian Church Archives.)
These words may seem shocking, but the Rev. Nisbet was not an outlier. He was expressing beliefs commonly held by many Christians at the time. Yet it is clear his words espouse white supremacy—a sin and ideol- ogy the church has since rejected as “a blatant denial of the Christian faith” (A&P 1972, pp. 269–270, 59). Colo- nialism and the racism that underlies it are incompatible with the gospel and yet, as we see from church his- tory, both have significantly shaped how the church understood mission. The church must therefore expose and change how its understanding of the Bible, and relationships with In- digenous peoples, have been harm- fully, culturally conditioned. Disciple- ship requires no less.
In 1994, the PCC confessed its role in running Residential Schools, and in 2019, the General Assembly repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. Neither of those actions, however necessary, undoes what has already happened. Apologies and repudia- tions of the ideologies that framed colonialism do not undo the reality of children’s graves, both marked and unmarked, associated with Resi- dential Schools. They don’t undo the devastating harms and intergenera- tional trauma the schools and other forms of colonialism caused. And so, part of discipleship today is working to dismantle the structures that al-
lowed such things, and redressing the harms that have come of them.
Since its 1994 Confession, The Presbyterian Church in Canada has been learning how to work for rec- onciliation, but we know it will take time. Generations of Indigenous peo- ple have been harmed; it will take generations of hard work for healing to redress that harm. The PCC took another step in that direction this June, issuing a public statement of commitments to reconciliation—in- cluding making funds available (see to help Indigenous communities search school grounds, as well as providing support for dealing with the trauma that the findings trigger. You can read those commitments and learn about other steps towards reconciliation the PCC is taking at indigenous-justice. Resources for deepening one’s understanding of the Doctrine of Discovery, how the PCC engaged in the Truth and Rec- onciliation Commission’s process, links to learn more about Residen- tial Schools the PCC ran, and study guides to engage topics such as our Confession or the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls are also available.
Understanding that the church has caused deep pain and harm, we must listen, repent and centre the wishes and guidance of Indigenous communities and families impacted by our actions. To echo what many Indigenous people are saying in light of the discovery of more and more graves—some of which are likely to be found on the grounds of Presby- terian-run schools—healing must come before reconciliation.
To learn more, see /indigenous-justice or contact Jus- tice Ministries.
 First 215 and then
751 more
It’s not shocking but it is traumatizing for the people I serve and it is impacting me intensely.
The good? Our whispered knowing is finely being proven.
Open your mind, the truth needs to be known and accepted and deeply lamented.
Accountability must be demanded.
Justice must be seen in action.
All Presbyterians inherit this legacy.
Indigenous Presbyterians and their Allies must all hold Church and Government accountable to do the right thing. Find the children, identify the children, get them home, don’t stop until they all are found.
Make sure there are enough resources given to your Indigenous missions and ministries to
Help our Indigenous people...
Help Indigenous communities to
restore the languages beaten out of our Elders,
restore our relationship with Creator,
recover our cultural identity,
restore our Spiritual way of life, practices, and ceremony.
We are intelligent enough, and strong enough to do that ourselves. We do not have the finances required to do a good job.
In exchange for the land that was stolen, honour the treaties!
Give us a fair portion of what the land produces.
Pay the rent you owe.
Ensure every single Indigenous person living in poverty
is gifted with an ongoing acceptable living allowance.
Clear the way for free access to education
for all Indigenous people regardless of age or academic level. Stop incarcerating Indigenous people
and fund Indigenous-led restorative Justice programs.
Stop tolerating systemic racism in the
health-care system,
education system, legal system,
political system,
social welfare system,
Child and Family, foster care, and adoption agencies. And in society in general.
With a heavy heart I say Meegwetch and Thank you for listening.
All my relations.
—Thundering Eagle Woman, the Rev. Margaret Mullin, Place of Hope Indigenous Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg, Man., Treaty 1 Territory, homeland of the Cree, Anishinaabe and Dakota Peoples and homeland of the Métis Nation
  Presbyterians Sharing supports Indigenous ministries as the PCC works towards healing and reconciliation with Indigenous people.

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