Beyond #Canada150: A Statement from Primate Fred Hilz on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2017

June 20, 2017
Posted in Blog
June 20, 2017 Editor

Beyond #Canada150: A Statement from Primate Fred Hilz on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2017

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WN: Below is a wonderful statement by Primate Fred Hilz of the Anglican Church of Canada. Would that all Christians take it to heart and action! Would that all Canadians do the same! Would that all humanity grow into this kind of hopeful reconciliation! Amen.

Like many other Canadians, I am mindful that within just a couple of weeks of observing National Aboriginal Day on June 21, we will be commemorating 150 years of Confederation on July 1. For many this will be a great celebration complete with flag raisings and fly passes, parades and concerts, races and regattas, feasts and fire works. For many, this will be a time of national thanksgiving, and rightly so, for among other things the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with the benefits we enjoy as Canadians. It will be a time for reflection on our place in the family of nations committed to peace and freedom for all peoples in the world.

Yet for many #Canada150 will pass with much less of an air of celebration given the history of relationships between the First Peoples of this land and the Settler Peoples. For some, #Canada150 is now #Resistance150, as #Canada150 is a reminder that this country’s founding is inextricably linked to this relationship. This relationship is marked by an imperial arrogance that became enshrined in a Federal Government Policy of Assimilation of the First Peoples into the culture, social structures and governance established by colonial powers.

Enforced by the establishing of the Indian Residential Schools, generations of Indigenous Peoples lost much of their language, culture, identity and spirituality. Through “the child taken and the parent left behind” there were so many years of lost love resulting in a devastating impact on people’s dignity and self-worth.

The legacy of those schools lives on. It lives on even after the Government of Canada finally issued an Apology in the House of Commons on June 11, 2008 in Ottawa. It lives on after a number of the churches which ran the schools on behalf of the government – including our own – made formal apologies. None of us will ever forget the words of Archbishop Michael Peers, “…I am sorry that we tried to remake you in our image…We failed you. We failed God.  We failed ourselves…”. (August 6, 1993, Minaki, Ontario)

TRC Calls to Action

As Canadians and as Anglicans, particularly those who followed the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the time between National Aboriginal Day and Canada Day is a time to re-read the 94 Calls to Action that accompanied the final report of the TRC Commissioners, released in December 2015. Counting myself in that company, I feel bound to draw the attention of all Canadians to a number of those Calls, to our deeper understanding of them, to recommit ourselves to the work they call for, and to pray in hope for the healing and reconciliation to which they aspire.

#53 calls for the establishing of a National Council for Reconciliation that would “monitor, evaluate, and report annually to Parliament and the Peoples of Canada on the Government of Canada’s post apology progress on reconciliation”.

#78 calls “The Government of Canada to commit to making a funding contribution of $10 Million over seven years to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation…”. This Centre is already in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, Provincial Education Ministers and numerous community based organizations, producing resources that will educate all Canadians on the history of the Residential Schools (#62, #63, #64 & #65).

#81 and #82 – call for the erection of a “Residential Schools Monument” in the nation’s capital and in each provincial capital “to honour Survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities”.

#68 calls on “the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, and the Canadian Museums Association to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017 by establishing a dedicated national funding program for commemoration projects on the theme of reconciliation”.

#45 calls for a Royal Proclamation of Reconciliation to be issued by the Crown repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery, adopting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, renewing or establishing Treaty relationships, and taking steps “to ensure that Aboriginal peoples are full partners in Confederation”.

#79 calls for a national heritage plan that will include ways to mark the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.

#80 calls for the establishing of “…a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation…”.

The legacy of the Residential Schools

A number of the Calls to Action speak to the need for much more attention to “the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools…” (#21); the vulnerability of Aboriginal women and girls to violence through human trafficking (#41); and the high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal peoples and to “eliminate barriers to the creation of additional Aboriginal healing lodges within the federal correctional system” (#35).

So numerous are the concerns for the well-being of Indigenous Peoples, that Call to Action #56 calls on the Prime Minister to issue an “annual ‘State of Aboriginal Peoples’ report”.

Language, culture, and spirituality

Many of you will know that several of the Calls to Action speak to the revitalization of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, including the enactment of an Aboriginal Languages Act and the appointment of a Commissioner to oversee its work (#14 & #15).

Another Call issues a challenge for the churches to provide permanent funding for community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects, culture and language revitalization projects, and education and relationship building projects. (#61)

I am pleased to say that long before such a Call, our Church was supporting and continues to support projects for recovery of language, culture and spirituality through the Anglican Healing Fund. As the Church celebrates the 25th anniversary of the work of this Fund, we are committed to rebuilding its base by raising $1 million this year to ensure at least $200,000 is available for each of the next five years for continuing this good work. We have spent 22 Days from May 31 to National Aboriginal Day to deeper our commitment to this work.

As Esther Wesley, the Coordinator of the Anglican Healing Fund has said, “Recovery of language is about recovery of one’s identity, dignity and delight in being an Indigenous person”. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Esther for her outstanding work, not only with the Healing Fund, but also as our lead staff person for anti racism training programs throughout the whole Church. We are blessed by her passion, patience and perseverance in this work.

Animator for Reconciliation

It is important that I continue to hold these Calls to Action before the Church so that as responsible citizens and as people whose faith is absolutely centred in the reconciling work of God in Christ, we can be proactive in speaking of the Calls and in supporting them.

I am ever grateful for the ongoing work of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice and the direction in which it points our Church. I am also delighted by our Church’s commitment to engage, on a full-time basis, someone who will serve as Animator for Reconciliation. Melanie Delva has begun her work. Her mantra for this ministry is that reconciliation is a spiritual practise. Melanie will be travelling the country extensively and working with bishops, synods, regions and parishes, colleges and schools, with elders and youth, in supporting their commitments in responding to the Calls to Action.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The TRC Commissioners declared the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be the framework for reconciliation in Canada. They called on the churches among others in Canadian society to endorse the declaration and put in place plans for adhering to it.

I am pleased that in 2010 our General Synod endorsed the declaration.  In 2016 I issued a public statement “Let our ‘yes’ be yes” outlining a number of ways in which we as a church might honour and uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

They included the appointing of a Council of Indigenous Elders and Youth to hold our Church accountable for its public endorsement of the UN declaration. That Council was commissioned for its work at General Synod in 2016 and held its first face-to-face meeting last month. Co-chaired by Judith Moses and Leigh Kern, the members have appropriately renamed themselves “The Vision Keepers”.

Indigenous self-determination in the Anglican Church of Canada

In relation to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action, I was always taken by the interest of the Commissioners in the Anglican Church of Canada’s commitment to self-determination for Indigenous Peoples within our church. And I mean real, practical on-the-ground commitment.

I mean responding to the call for the appointment of a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. The Right Reverend Mark L. MacDonald was commissioned for his ministry ten years ago at General Synod in 2007.

I mean the setting aside of rules and procedures common to our processes for the election of bishops, so as to create space for electing Indigenous bishops in accord with Indigenous customs.

I think of Bishop Lydia Mamakwa’s election and the subsequent emerging of Indigenous Spiritual Ministry of Mishamikoweesh. I think of the election of Adam Halkett to be the Indigenous Bishop for the Diocese of Saskatchewan. I think of Bishop Barbara Andrews work in the newly proclaimed Territory of the People. I think of Bishop Riscylla Walsh Shaw, a citizen of the Métis Nation of Ontario. And I think of the Right Reverend Sidney Black, the newly consecrated Indigenous Bishop for Treaty 7 Territory in the Diocese of Calgary.

I think of the work of the Indigenous House of Bishops Leadership Circle, the Anglican Council of Indigenous People and the Sacred Circle. The work of each of those circles is almost entirely focussed on self-determination and what that might look like.

The vision of a truly Indigenous Church within The Anglican Church of Canada is enshrined in the 1994 Covenant – A Journey of Spiritual Renewal. In 1995, General Synod accepted the hand of partnership extended by Indigenous leaders in the hope of that vision. In 2016, the whole Church took account of a statement from the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples “Where we are: Twenty Years after the Covenant”. That statement spoke of a ministry plan for Indigenous ministry across our Church.

This summer, we are planning a consultation to be held in Pinawa, Manitoba in mid-September (14-17). Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from throughout the Church, all of whom have a demonstrated commitment to the vision of a truly indigenous expression of the Church, will gather. Over the course of three days, we will take stock of where we have come in “The Journey of Spiritual Renewal”.

We will celebrate great moments that have inspired us to continue the journey. We will name issues that cause us from time to time to hesitate or lack the courage of our conviction with respect to self-determination. We will take some time to learn more about the nature and substance of self-determination.

We will be blessed to have Dr. Martin Brokenleg, a highly respected Indigenous scholar, elder and priest as our keynote speaker and animator for this conversation. We will conclude our time with some engagement in a report from a focus group convened by Bishop Mark MacDonald with respect to a model for self-determination with a fair degree of flexibility within it. For now it bears the image of an “Indigenous Confederacy” within The Anglican Church of Canada.  The consultation promises to be a challenging but fascinating conversation marked I trust, by much grace and hope.

Throughout our time we will be immersed in the story of The Road to Emmaus (Day 1 – on the road, Day 2 – at the inn, and Day 3 – on the road again). The name of the story in an Indigenous translation of the Gospel of Luke is “The Road to Warm Springs”. That is the theme for our time together. I ask your prayers for Bishop Mark and me as we host this gathering and for the Planning Team co-chaired by the Rev. Norm Wesley and Dr. Randall Fairey.

The Fundamental Principle

I conclude by quoting from the last of the Ten Principles the Truth and Reconciliation Commission declared as underlying their 94 Calls to Action. It reads in part…

“Together, Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practise reconciliation in our everyday lives—within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces. To do so constructively, Canadians must remain committed to the ongoing work of establishing and maintaining respectful relationships.

For many Survivors and their families, this commitment is foremost about healing themselves, their communities, and their nations in ways that revitalize individuals as well as Indigenous cultures, languages, spirituality, laws, and governance systems. For governments, building a respectful relationship involves dismantling a centuries-old political and bureaucratic culture in which, all too often, policies and programs are still based on failed notions of assimilation. For churches, demonstrating long-term commitment requires atoning for actions within the residential schools, respecting Indigenous spirituality, and supporting Indigenous peoples’ struggles for justice and equity. …For Canadians from all walks of life, reconciliation offers a new way of living together.”

Pray with me that this principle be etched on the very soul of our Church and our commitment to healing, reconciliation and new life.

The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz
The Anglican Church of Canada

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Please click on: Beyond #Canada150

  1. [1]Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
    The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.
  2. [2]It continued:
    ‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.”   The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed.  It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971.  He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.
  3. [3]Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
    Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).
    What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.
  4. [5]
  5. [4] The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". [5]He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
    Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.
  6. [6]A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
    In June [2017], the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
    It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.
    Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
    The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.
    To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.
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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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