|Orange Shirt Day/ National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Thursday September 30: Orange Shirt Day/ National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (a new federal holiday). Not limited to the children in your life! This day is for everyone. Please consider looking into plans at your local school and within the community; and planning on how your community of faith or ministry can use its resources to hold space for an all-ages focus on truth-telling and learning about residential schools. Click here for a prayer and resources from Indigenous Ministries and Justice. Click here for information on a full week of online learning events from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. Orange shirts are hard to come by at the moment, so instead use orange ribbons and buttons, and use your outdoor signage and space creatively. Remember to donate to local or national survivors’ societies. (Art: By Chase Grey, @gaysalishart, educational use only.)
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two Spirit people: October 4. Orange and red are deeply connected. Please scroll down to see event resources for this day.
Leadership team and Cluster meetings
In June and September the overall leadership group for the network met to share plans and needs. Work continues to be impacted by a pandemic that just won’t quit, but many Indigenous groups as well as settler churches have taken their excellent work online, or outside in a safe way. As we head closer to winter, may our creativity continue to take us to new places even in hard times.
As well, we continue to experiment with Clusters within the Network. This is United Church speak for smaller, more geographically based groups open to all. For example, there are Clusters meeting in Northeast Alberta, and Northwest AB/ Northeast BC/ Yellowknife. They meet at least twice a year to support each other and plan.
Searches, funding, and accompaniment: unmarked burials at former residential “schools”
Through the summer, Indigenous and non-Indigenous leadership and elders across the church met to continue to guide the United Church’s responses and obligations under the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action, and the Caretakers’ Calls to the Church. You’re encouraged to sign up for the Living Into Right Relations newsletter so you can get updates. Please also see the shared statement from Moderator Rev Richard Bott and Rev Murray Pruden, Executive Minister for Indigenous Ministries and Justice.
Some of this work has included shared Regional and national commitments and coordination as some First Nations begin to receive funding for searches, and work alongside shared Indigenous and non-Indigenous groups who were working with cemeteries and unmarked burials for many years. Letters about funding and support were sent to First Nations chief and councils whose land houses former residential school sites.
Alberta curriculum action reminder
In June we shared an action calling on the Alberta government to rescind its plans for the proposed new K-12 Alberta curriculum, since the curriculum violates a number of Alberta’s TRC Calls to Action commitments. This action is still in effect. It was written before the news of unmarked burials at Kamloops surfaced and now seems all the more urgent. Please do what you can to continue to share this action. While it may feel uncomfortably political for some United Church people, its focus is actually on our common commitment to the TRC, residential school survivors and their communities, and Indigenous rights.
Blanket Exercise update
Some people have been asking about accessing the KAIROS Blanket Exercise. Please sign up for the KBE newsletter, and have a look at the KBE website from time to time. Because of the COVID situation in Alberta and NE BC, it’s unlikely that the wider church would encourage us to hold an in-person Blanket Exercise, and unfortunately, the virtual one isn’t readily available either. Here’s the latest, from September, which also notes that the online KBE is now booked up past March 2022:
“The KAIROS Blanket Exercise is such a meaningful program to KAIROS and communities abroad. This is why after the long pandemic pause, we are so very encouraged to see the great number of requests for in-person KBEs flooding in.
We had pivoted to deliver virtual KBEs (vKBEs), which launched in mid-January, to keep the spirit of reconciliation through education and understanding going. The vKBEs have been very well received and even as they are being scheduled into 2022, we at KAIROS know there is still a desire for in-person KBEs to resume. We are working towards this goal and taking the time we need to fully prepare and equip our amazing team to deliver the in-person KBEs in a safe, honouring, and excellent way. For now, KAIROS will continue to deliver the vKBEs that are booked. We will begin to schedule new vKBEs and in-person KBEs on or around Monday, November 15th. We look forward to delivering the powerful KBE experience to you in the coming season. We will continue to provide regular updates via the KAIROS Blanket Exercise website and the KBE e-newsletter.”
In addition to the newsletters mentioned above:
United Church communities of faith, and communities of all kinds, can make a difference when we engage our membership. Here’s one example from Scarboro United in Calgary. Consider building your own list of resources and connections!
And: please make sure that a land acknowledgement every Sunday and before meetings is something you practise. This really isn’t optional, as your leadership group discussed back in June. Here’s one resource to help with that.
Members of the Northwest Cluster are considering a group read of Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians; this multiple prize-winning book is a good (and hard) introduction or renewal of commitment to sitting with the impact of residential “schools”. Listening to Indigenous Voices is a listening/ learning/ discussion guide that others are tapping into: check out the event listing below.
Are there other titles and videos that would work for you? Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org with info on the title, how you worked with it in a group setting, and why it worked. We’ll feature that in the next newsletter!
There are far too many to list, and that is wonderful news! Below are a few highlights and sources that focus on treaty and provincial territories. Being Good Relations will highlight events on our Facebook page too. Being Good Relations people in BC and Yellowknife: please send us information so we can include you!
United in Learning: UiL will continue to host many events by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit resource people, including resource people from the United Church’s Indigenous Ministries and Justice. Please sign up for their newsletter and check their site.
September 22, 2021 – Treaty 7 Day: Online Chinook Winds Regional Town Hall (2 pm – 3:30 pm MDT) – discussion of the history of Treaty 7 and the perspectives of Indigenous peoples on the 144th anniversary of the treaty signing. We will also discuss the Ally Toolkit being developed for the Region by grassroots volunteers and your chance to get involved. Register HERE PLUS Online Treaty Talk – At 7 PM we will take some time to engage with the text of Treaty 7 and discuss our understandings and information gaps. We will look at what Reconciliation looks like today for our Region and for our communities of faith. Register HERE
Orange Shirt Day vigil, September 30,
3:00PM MDT (5:00PM Eastern):
Executive Minister Murray Pruden will be hosting a candle light vigil to honour the children who never made it home from Residential Schools and survivors. Please join us for an evening of remembering and please bring a candle or a light. This gathering will be live broadcast on the Indigenous Ministries and Justice Facebook page, which is accessible to all: https://www.facebook.com/IndigenousMinistries/events
Online Panel with Ecumenical Indigenous Clergy for Truth and Reconciliation Day, September 30 7 pm MDT We gather a distinguished panel of ecumenical Indigenous Clergy voices from various denominations and spaces to discuss the history of residential schools, the impact of intergenerational trauma, the recovery of children’s bodies and the ongoing role of Indigenous ministry in the church’s dialogue about reconciliation today. Representatives from The United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada among others will join us to discuss the efforts and challenges of reconciliation in their own contexts. Via Zoom. Everyone Invited! Register HERE
October 4, 2021 – Sisters in Spirit Day (designated in Alberta in 2019 for MMIWG2S and their families). We encourage all to connect with community vigils, small gatherings and socially distanced marches that occur on this day to commemorate the lives of Women, Girls and Two Spirit People and advocate for change to prevent future tragedies. The Native Women’s Association of Canada is hosting an online vigil; please see their page for details. And again, using your church sign, website, outdoor space, and more to spread the word are all important. Please watch the Chinook Winds and Northern Spirit websites for information, and please look into what is happening online or in person in your community.
Listening to Indigenous Voices conversations, September- November
This book begins by exploring Indigenous worldviews, goes on to examine the history of colonization, and concludes with sessions on righting relationships, decolonization, and indigenization. Join in a group journey with the resource: Dialogue Groups: Each group of 5-8 participants – led by one facilitator, will meet three times for 2 hours in length. We will meet virtually on Sept. 28th, Nov. 2 and Nov. 30th from 4:30-6:30 EST (adjust for your time zone and please factor in the end of daylight savings.)
Register here: http://tiny.cc/ltivdialoguecircles
KAIROS Prairies North: November 20 annual meeting and workshop on land. Please hold the date; more details will come soon. This will be an exciting shared space between Indigenous and non Indigenous people, across many spiritual traditions.
Blessings on your fall journey of truth-telling, bearing witness, and justice.