June 20 in support of the UN Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
We seek to heal and renew the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people because inequality and injustice cannot be of God.
Suicide rates among Indigenous youth between 15 and 24 years are five to six times higher than the national average. For Inuit youth in particular, it’s 11 times higher. Suicide accounts for 25% of all deaths among Indigenous youth.
When confronted with such despair, it’s easy to feel hopeless and helpless. Becoming aware of the legacy of colonization is not easy. We may feel ashamed of the inequality that divides Indigenous peoples of Canada—First Nations, Inuit and Métis—from other Canadians. We are challenged to recognize how governments and corporations have failed to honour the rights to the land and selfdetermination of Canada’s first inhabitants.
Yet these realities don’t have the last word. Together, whether Indigenous or newcomers, we seek to heal and renew the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people because we know that what causes harm, inequality and injustice cannot be of God. Together, we find signs of hope and we dare to dream the promise of right relationship.
In November 2010, the Government of Canada’s endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples represented a step towards right relation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. KAIROS and our member churches had long called for Canada’s endorsement of this important global human rights standard.
On June 20 KAIROS member churches, communities and Indigenous partners will join in a Day of Solidarity, urging Canada to take concrete steps, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to implement the UN Declaration. We will bring banners to Ottawa calling for the human rights of Indigenous peoples to be respected. This is followed by National Aboriginal Day on June 21, which offers many opportunities to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples to the history and present of our country. We ask you support these events with your presence and your prayers. Hold in prayer our common hopes for a just future, together in this beautiful land. And bring those prayers to action in your faith community and home.
One: God of all people, Great Spirit, Holy One
All: Listen to our prayer.
One: Give your blessing this day to the First Peoples of this land.
All: Guide the elders and give them strength;
One: Comfort and renew men and women in times of sorrow and despair,
All: Give grace and pride to children as the daughters and sons of your creation.
One: Hear our prayer as we gather today to commit to right relations.
All: Give us a sense of justice, an awareness of new beginnings, that wrongs may be redressed, rights respected and a new covenant forged.
One: May those who have used this land with little thought or regard learn to love and respect this gracious heritage;
All: May those who find your presence in the land be free to model its grateful use to all.
One: In common life and common dignity…
All: May all people receive from you a new humanity. Amen.
Five things you and your faith community can do:
- Build relationships. Learn whose traditional territory you live and work on, and learn about your local treaty or treaty negotiations. Get to know your local First Nations, Inuit or Métis community. Contact your Friendship Centre; attend public powwows, Treaty Days or ceremonies. Connect with your denomination’s right relationship networks.
- Learn. Learn more about the Canadian history we’re not taught in school. Host a KAIROS workshop on this: contact us at email@example.com. Learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the reality of residential schools, even if your denomination was not involved in running the schools. Go to TRC hearings; learn more about local survivors’ groups. Learn about the Indigenous membership and perspectives of your own faith tradition.
- Work for an end to violence against Indigenous women, who face a rate of violence many times higher than in the general population. Support vigils in your community, and support the work of groups like Families of Sisters in Spirit, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Walk 4 Justice, and more.
- Go global. Learn about the UN Declaration and the worldwide concerns and movement that brought it to birth after thirty years of work. Reflect on the struggles that made the Declaration necessary, and think about how to put into action here in Canada.
- Listen to what Indigenous communities say about their beliefs, their needs and their hopes. Listen, especially when stories are hard to hear. Be open to challenging your own beliefs and assumptions.
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives is a faithful movement for human rights and ecological justice, uniting the local and the global.
Our founding members are: The Anglican Church of Canada, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Church of Canada, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Religious Conference, the Mennonite Central Committee of Canada, and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).
More information: www.kairoscanada.org.