United Church of Canada
In August 2019, Indigenous members of The United Church of Canada met at the National Indigenous Spiritual Gathering, “Our Act of Decolonizing”, on the territory of the Chippewas of Rama. Their focus was to discern and decide upon a structure and priorities for the self-determining Indigenous church within the United Church. The group reached a consensus to create a new national Indigenous spiritual organization and elected a National Indigenous Council to lead it. The gathering also formed a new National Indigenous Elders Council to advise the whole United Church of Canada – to give counsel, spiritual advice, and guidance to those parts of the church that seek their support.
The Indigenous Ministry and Justice Circle is the staffed team that is leading the church’s work on reconciliation and Indigenous justice issues with the non-Indigenous church and liaising with the National Indigenous Council of the Indigenous United Church. Some of the work of the United Church over that last 35 years or so includes:
- the two United Church apologies – in 1986 to Indigenous peoples for the church’s part in colonization and in 1998 to former students of United Church residential schools, their families, and communities;
- the church’s repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery;
- the church’s work with, and responses to, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
- the church’s work to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
This work is highlighted at: https://www.united-church.ca/social-action/justice-initiatives/reconciliation-and-indigenous-justice .
Truth and Reconciliation Commission and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) was created to preserve the memory of Canada’s Residential School system and legacy. Officially opening in the summer of 2015, the NCTR will be the permanent home for all statements, documents, and other materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“Through KAIROS, 10 churches [including the United Church] and religious organizations work together in faithful action for ecological justice and human rights.” Their Indigenous rights program is premised on: “We are all Treaty people who share responsibility for taking action on reconciliation. Without truth, justice and healing, there can be no reconciliation.”
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
The mission of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society is to “Provide reconciliation-based public education, research and support to promote the safety and wellbeing of First Nations children, young people, families and Nations.” https://fncaringsociety.com/
“On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that Canada discriminates against First Nations children in its provision of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program and by failing to implement Jordan’s Principle. The Tribunal ruling was a victory not only for First Nations kids, but for all people in Canada who believe in love and fairness. But kids still need your help.” https://fncaringsociety.com/i-am-witness
Reconciliation Canada is an “Indigenous-led organization that catalyzes meaningful relationships through values-based dialogue, leadership and action.”
Some local support services for Indigenous individuals and families: