Parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, including the Anglican Church of Canada—collectively known as the All-Parties Table—are set to combine their respective drafts of the Covenant of Reconciliation into a “master draft,” the church’s reconciliation animator Dawn Maracle told Sacred Circle May 31.
The developing document is a response to Call to Action 46 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which calls on the All-Parties Table to “develop and sign a Covenant of Reconciliation that would identify principles for working collaboratively to advance reconciliation in Canadian society.” The parties include the churches that ran residential schools—except for the Roman Catholic Church, which is not participating—and the Government of Canada, which approved a previous draft in April 2021.
Since then, the All-Parties Table has further tweaked the language of the draft, while each of the parties have independently consulted with Indigenous organizations and communities. Maracle presented the Anglican Church of Canada’s current draft to Sacred Circle. The draft includes language added following consultations with the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples and the Indigenous House of Bishops Leadership Circle.
The All-Parties Table will meet this week, Maracle said, with each party bringing along its latest draft.
“A subcommittee is going to have to take all the drafts from all the churches, from all of their community consultations, and amalgamate them into a master draft,” Maracle told Sacred Circle. “Then it’s going to have to go back to the lawyers for another three to six months for them to fight over, although I will say that the lawyers with the Government of Canada have been on board with all of our changes so far … We’re hopeful that they’re relatively in alignment with us.”
Maracle said the Covenant of Reconciliation provided an opportunity for the Anglican Church of Canada to renew its commitment to reconciliation—but added that the church has a responsibility to revisit the document annually to ensure it is meeting its obligations.
The draft Covenant of Reconciliation further repudiates concepts such as terra nullius (“nobody’s land”) that were used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples and adopts the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation. It supports the renewal or establishment of treaty relationships based on mutual recognition.