We call upon the parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to develop and sign a Covenant of Reconciliation that would identify principles for working collaboratively to advance reconciliation in Canadian society, and that would include, but not be limited to:
- Reaffirmation of the parties’ commitment to reconciliation.
- Repudiation of concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius, and the reformation of laws, governance structures, and policies within their respective institutions that continue to rely on such concepts.
- Full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation.
- Support for the renewal or establishment of Treaty relationships based on principles of mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for maintaining those relationships into the future.
- Enabling those excluded from the Settlement Agreement to sign onto the Covenant of Reconciliation.
- Enabling additional parties to sign onto the Covenant of Reconciliation.
Indigenous Watchdog Status Update
|Current Status||March 31, 2021||STALLED|
|Previous Status||Dec. 31, 2020||STALLED|
Nothing specific in federal government’s official response other than general statements in support of i. Reconciliation, ii. Repudiation of Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius (see also C2A # 47) and iv. Treaty relationship. iii & iv Bill C-15 was just introduced on Dec. 3, 2020. (See C2A # 43). The federal response does not address v and vi at all. The Church Parties to the Settlement Agreement have made multiple commitments to items i. – iv. No timeline identified for development of a Covenant of Reconciliation for signature.
The Church Parties to the Settlement Agreement
The Church Parties are: The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Roman Catholic Entities Parties to the Settlement Agreement, The United Church of Canada and the Jesuits of English Canada
The Church Parties to the Settlement Agreement welcome the Commissioners’ call to the parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement for a new Covenant of Reconciliation that would renew and expand our shared commitment to the continuing work of reconciliation, and invite others into that work, including new Canadians, who, while they were not part of the historic injustice, are now part of a country in which understanding and addressing that injustice is a national priority for all Canadians.
June 2, 2015 – Response of the Churches to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Beginning in the 19th century and continuing until the late 1960’s, our churches were partners with the Government of Canada in running Indian Residential Schools. Notwithstanding the good intent and care of many who worked in the Schools, it is clear that Indian Residential Schools, in policy and in practice, were an assault on Indigenous families, culture, language and spiritual traditions, and that great harm was done. We continue to acknowledge and regret our part in that legacy.
- We acknowledge and welcome the specific calls to action that offer direction to the churches in our continuing commitment to reconciliation. In particular, we are committed to respect Indigenous spiritual traditions in their own right.
- As individual churches and in shared interfaith and ecumenical initiatives – for example through Kairos, through interfaith groups, and through the Canadian Council of Churches – we will continue to foster learning about and awareness of the reality and legacy of the residential schools, the negative impact of such past teachings as the Doctrine of Discovery, and the new ways forward found in places, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- We will continue our commitment to financial support for community-controlled initiatives in healing, language and cultural revitalization, education and relationship-building, and self-determination.
- We welcome the Commissioners’ call to the parties to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement for a new Covenant of Reconciliation that would renew and expand our shared commitment to the continuing work of reconciliation, and invite others into that work, including new Canadians, who, while they were not part of the historic injustice, are now part of a country in which understanding and addressing that injustice is a national priority for all Canadians.
- We also welcome wider Calls to Action that include our members as citizens and residents of Canada. There is a crucial need for the kinds of public and governmental initiatives that the Commissioners identify, including the establishment of a National Council of Reconciliation that would continue to hold this work before parliament and the Canadian people.
- We recognize the need for equity in access to education and health care, and the critical need for new and culturally-appropriate ways of ensuring the welfare of children who are at risk.
- And we enthusiastically support the call for teaching about the history and legacy of the residential schools in all Canadian schools, and commit ourselves to ensuring that the teaching ministry of our churches also acknowledges these realities.
Above all, we welcome the Commissioners’ Calls to Action as providing the basis for a wide and transformative conversation among Canadians about the better future we intend to foster, not just for Indigenous peoples, but for all of us who long to live in a society grounded in right relationships and equity.
We will continue to share in the work of healing and reconciliation, respectfully following the leadership of Indigenous communities and leaders, and to offer leadership among non-Indigenous Canadians where that is appropriate.
Mar. 30, 2016 – “An Ecumenical Statement on UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the Framework for Reconciliation”
Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019
The Government of Canada is committed to working with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement parties to forge a new type of forward-looking relationship: a covenant of reconciliation. As a start, preliminary discussions were held on implementing Call to Action 46.
In anticipation of working with participants on a covenant toward reconciliation, the Government of Canada is reviewing concepts that have been used to justify European sovereignty.
Furthermore, in 2016, the Government of Canada announced its full support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without qualification and committed to its full and effective implementation.