Invitation To Join Us In
The Walk For Reconciliation
Dear Church Partners,
My email to you today is not a regular update. I usually write to you about UGM, but today I'm writing you about something much bigger than UGM, something you and your church have the opportunity to be part of.
At our sites in the Downtown Eastside, New Westminster and Mission we serve a disproportionately high number of indigenous people. Despite advances that are being made, it is an open secret that Canadian indigenous people experience addiction, homelessness, and urban poverty proportionally far more than other groups.
We see it every day and it breaks our hearts. There are many complicated reasons for this, but one of these reasons deserves our special attention as Christians: In the name of Jesus, Christian Churches ran Indian Residential Schools across Canada where children where often forced away from their parents, and where abuse and neglect were far too common. I won't go into the detailed history of residential schools (I've added some resources at the end), but the fact that this happened in the name of Jesus alarms us at UGM, and we're hoping that you can help us do something about it.
Earlier this year, UGM was invited by a group of residential school survivors to help plan and support some amazing works of reconciliation. The groups that invited us - The Indian Residential School Survivor's Society, and Reconciliation Canada - are living examples of ongoing healing and reconciliation. They have the courage to move forward in reconciliation, and they're asking churches to join them in a walk for reconciliation on Sunday, September 22. The Walk celebrates a positive new movement to build better relationships among Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians. This bold vision calls on everyone—all ages, all cultures, all faiths, all backgrounds —inviting us to come together as communities and as individuals. Thousands will be walking.
The walk will happen on the morning after the close of the official Indian Residential School Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, here in Vancouver. Hundreds of residential school survivors, staff, and their families will be testifying about their experiences and opening old wounds. We want to testify to Christ's healing and compassionate power by walking with them the next morning.
Will you walk with us on the morning of Sunday, September 22?
There are other options below, if Sunday morning can't work for your congregation. We understand that it isn't an ideal time for most churches; however, it was the only time available due to City of Vancouver restrictions.
For more information, please contact our colleague Jeffrey Baergen at firstname.lastname@example.org
William B. Mollard
President of Union Gospel Mission
Manager of Church Relations
Union Gospel Mission
Reconciliation Week Events
Lighting the Fire of Reconciliation
16 September 2013 | 8AM
A sacred fire will be lit to symbolize the commencement of Reconciliation Week.
All Nations Canoe Gathering
17 September 2013 | 9AM – 1PM
FALSE CREEK BY SCIENCE WORLD
Paddlers will start from Kits Point to the Olympic Village. People-powered crafts will join traditional canoes in a welcome ceremony to Coast Salish lands.
TRC BC National Event
18 – 21 September 2013
Pacific National Exhibition
Pacific National Exhibition. Come share & learn the truths about Indian Residential Schools.
Walk for Reconciliation: A New Way Forward
22 September 2013 | 9AM
QUEEN ELIZABETH PLAZA
Queen Elizabeth Plaza to Creekside Park. Bringing Canada’s many cultures to walk a path together in a shared commitment to reconciliation.
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
Residential schools for Aboriginal people in Canada date back to the 1870’s. Over 130 residential schools were located across the country, and the last school closed in 1996. These government-funded, church-run schools were set up to eliminate parental involvement in the intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development of Aboriginal children.
During this era, more than 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were placed in these schools, often against their parents’ wishes. Many were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own culture. While there is an estimated 80,000 former students living today, the ongoing impact of residential schools has been felt throughout generations and has contributed to social problems that continue to exist.
On June 11, 2008, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government of Canada, delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons to former students, their families, and communities for Canada’s role in the operation of the residential schools.
With the support of the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit organizations, former residential school students took the federal government and the churches to court. Their cases led to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history. The agreement sought to begin repairing the harm caused by residential schools. Aside from providing compensation to former students, the agreement called for the establishment of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada with a budget of $60-million over five years.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has a mandate to learn the truth about what happened in the residential schools and to inform all Canadians. The Commission will document the truth of what happened by relying on records held by those who operated and funded the schools, testimonies from officials of the institutions that operated the schools, and experiences reported by survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience and its subsequent impacts.
How can you help?
• In conjunction with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of British Columbia, we wish to encourage your congregation, your staff, family, and friends, to join us at the Walk for Reconciliation on September 22nd,
PLEASE REGISTER FOR THE WALK AT http://reconciliationcanada.ca/participate/walk-for-reconciliation/.
• The TRC is expecting 50,000 participants, and is especially encouraging the church to be present. You can register individually or as a team, and although it is an option, fundraising for this event is not a requirement.
• As one can imagine, organizing National Events like these takes a whole lot of volunteers – about 1500. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit www.trc.ca.