We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement, and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. This would include, but not be limited to, the following commitments:

  1. Ensuring that their institutions, policies, programs, and practices comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
  2. Respecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination in spiritual matters, including the right to practice, develop, and teach their own spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies, consistent with Article 12:1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  3. Engaging in ongoing public dialogue and actions to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Issuing a statement no later than March 31, 2016, from all religious denominations and faith groups, as to how they will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusJune 14, 2021IN PROGRESS
Previous StatusMarch 31, 2021IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress?”

The Church Parties to the Settlement Agreement – 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 – “acknowledge and welcome the specific calls to action that offer direction to the churches in our continuing commitment to reconciliation” (An Ecumenical Statement):

  • In particular, we are committed to respect Indigenous spiritual traditions in their own right (i. and ii. above).
  • 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 (i and iii. above):
    • 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. (i. above)
  • 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 (1 and iv above).
  • All the Church Parties to the Settlement Agreement issued a statement on implementation plans for UNDRIP by March 31, 2016 (iv above).
Statement in Support and Implementation of UNDRIP, March 31, 2016

An Ecumenical Statement on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

In addition to the many statements released by churches and other faith groups in response to Call to Action # 48, we the undersigned, jointly commit to Call to Action # 48, to implement the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation. The rights affirmed in the UN Declaration constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity, security, and well-being of Indigenous peoples worldwide. The UN Declaration, with its emphasis on self-determination and consent, freedom from discrimination, and rights to spirituality, culture, lands, and resources, helps us to address the root causes of this inequity, and provides the means for us to correct it.

Implementing the UN Declaration includes examining the Doctrine of Discovery, which some faith bodies have repudiated. We acknowledge that this doctrine has had and continues to have devastating consequences for Indigenous peoples worldwide. All doctrines of superiority are illegal in international and domestic law, and immoral, and we affirm that they can never justify the exploitation and subjugation of Indigenous peoples and the violation of their human rights.

As churches and religious organizations, we have acknowledged our failures to respect the rights and dignity of Indigenous peoples. We acknowledge the harm done and are committed to journeying together towards healing and reconciliation. Many of us are on different places in that journey: some have been engaged in these questions for decades; for others, it is new terrain. But we are all committed to responding to this call.

  • Anglican Church of Canada
  • Christian Reformed Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
  • The Presbyterian Church in Canada
  • Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • The Salvation Army
  • The United Church of Canada
A Catholic Response to Call to Action 48 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (On Adopting and Implementing UNDRIP)

Catholic Bishops, institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life and other Catholic organizations in Canada support this Declaration and believe that its spirit can point a way forward to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, including:

  • Respecting Indigenous Spiritual Practices
  • Publicly supporting The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Understanding and respecting their cultural traditions, religious consciousness and their long-standing ability to decide and control their development programs

The Catholic response also frames their response in the context that the Catholic Church is not a national church and “each diocese, institute of consecrated life and society of apostolic life has its own proper autonomy”, …the undersigned reiterate the teaching of the Catholic Church on the universality of human rights, particularly the right to freedom of religion and belief.

The Catholic response also highlights eight commitments in “Walking Forward Together” while expressing a caveat that the As representatives of the Catholic faithful in Canada, and counting on the full collaboration of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council, we appeal to all our Catholic brothers and sisters — laity, members of institutes of consecrated life and of societies of apostolic life, deacons, priests, and Bishops — to make their own the following commitments, as recommended by the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, in the hope and desire to continue to walk together with Indigenous Peoples in building a more just society where their gifts and those of all people are nurtured and honoured.


  • President, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Chairman, CCCB Commission for Justice and Peace
  • Chair, Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council
  • President, Canadian Religious Conference
  • President, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
  • Executive Director, Canadian Religious Conference
  • Executive Director, Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

http://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/catholic response call to action 48.pdf

Other Faith-based Organization responses as compiled by Kairos
Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada is not the lead on a response for Call to Action 48.