We recently attended a webinar organized by Faith in the Declaration, a coalition of Canadian faith houses and faith organizations working together to support the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The panelists were former Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners – Chancellor Murray Sinclair, Dr. Marie Wilson and Chief Willy Littlechild. They discussed the relationship of the TRC Calls for Action (specifically #48) and Bill C-15 (government bill re: UNDRIP as a framework for reconciliation. The recording is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D9ZBZeeqRQ
We listened and learned about:
- TRC Call for Action #48: to adopt and comply with the Declaration as the framework of reconciliation https://www.faithinthedeclaration.ca/
- UNDRIP – UN General Assembly Resolution 61/295 – Governments: In conjunction with Indigenous peoples, use the Declaration, as the basis for reviewing and reforming laws and policies to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ rights are upheld without discrimination https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/wp-content/uploads/sites/19/2018/11/UNDRIP_E_web.pdf
- Bill C-15– history and current status: Government Bill C-15 was preceded by the unsuccessful Bill C-262 blocked by the Senate; Bill C-15 is new declaration legislation co-developed with Indigenous Peoples to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with UNDRIP. https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/43-2/bill/C-15/first-reading
We noted the United Church of Canada’s (UCC) responses to the TRC Call of Action #8 and UNDRIP as a framework for reconciliation.
- In June 2015, the churches that are parties to the Settlement Agreement (Anglican, Presbyterian, United, and a number of Roman Catholic entities) made a joint statement in response to the Calls to Action. united-church.ca/social- action/justice-initiatives/truth-and-reconciliation-commission.
- On March 30, 2016, the UCC joined the broader ecumenical community in announcing a collective intention to implement the principles, norms, and standards of UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation (TRC Call for Action #48) and on March 31, 206 issued its own statement
- In March 2019, the UCC participated in an ecumenical delegation to discuss Bill C-262 with Senators
- The urgency for Senate to support this non-partisan bill prior to its June 30, 2021 recession. https://www.parl.ca/LegisInfo/BillDetails.aspx?Language=E&billId=11007812
- Some concern that Bill C-15 hasn’t engaged sufficient Indigenous community consultation and that there is the omission of reference to getting rid of the Indian Act and the Doctrine of Discovery.
We discerned and concluded:
- While Bill C-15 may not be perfect, it is a step in the right direction in acting on the TRC Calls for Action
- The urgency for the Senate to deal with Bill C-15 is real and there are actions we can take
- There is a resource available for us and others to use in contacting Senators – a template for a letter and address is found at: https://www.faithinthedeclaration.ca/take-action-1
- There is also a resource for letting our Members of Parliament know of our support https://mcccanada.ca/get-involved/advocacy/takeaction/10
We hope you will join us in Canada’s reconciliation journey by writing to both the Senate and Members of Parliament.
Together we can make a difference!
In peace and reconciliation,
Heather Clarke and Margot Pritchard
Members of Shaughnessy Heights United Church and its Reconciliation Matters Team