A small group of Anglicans and Lutherans in southern Ontario has formed to raise awareness of issues related to Indigenous-non Indigenous reconciliation.
The Treaties Recognition Week Work Group consists of seven lay and clergy members from both churches, drawn largely from the Brantford, Ont., area. It formed last June after the Ontario government’s announcement May 30 that the first week of every November henceforth would be known as Treaties Recognition Week. The government said the week is intended to be a time for raising awareness about the history of treaties between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, both in schools and among the wider public.
The group’s formation also followed a call last March by Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, that Canadian Anglicans engage with the 48th of the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The 48th Call to Action asks churches that were party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). To show their commitment to UNDRIP, Hiltz called on “every diocese and territory of our church to ensure opportunity for learning about the history and lingering legacy” of the Doctrine of Discovery, the notion that when Europeans arrived in the Americas, they discovered a land that belonged essentially to no one and was theirs to claim.
In response to this call, the Treaties Recognition Week Work Group undertook a number of activities. The Rev. Peter Mogk, a retired Lutheran pastor, prepared seven daily Bible readings. In advance of Treaties Recognition Week, the group held a screening of Trick or Treaty?, a documentary film about Treaty 9, an agreement agreed to by northern Ontario Indigenous peoples in 1905, in Hamilton.
On November 9, St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Brantford hosted the Blanket Exercise, a teaching tool in Indigenous Canadian history.
On November 13, the group hosted a meeting in Brantford involving presentations by Nathan Tidridge, a teacher and author of several books on Canadian constitutional history; and Phil Monture, a land claims specialist for the Six Nations of the Grand River, a Brantford-area Indigenous community. After the presentations, the roughly 60 participants gathered in a sharing circle and prayer in Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawk, near Brantford.
Organizers Mogk, Canon Tim Dobbin, rector of St. Mark’s, and St. Mark’s parishioner Nancy Harvey, who is also co-chair of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Creation Matters Working Group, say they look forward to putting on similar events next year and beyond, and to partnering with like-minded groups on similar events.