Anglican Church of Canada bishops will be meeting in the near future to discuss implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald said following a House of Bishops meeting in October.
The Calls to Action, released with the final report of the commission last June, is a list of concrete measures that commissioners hope will serve as a “roadmap” toward reconciliation and renewal after the suffering caused by the Indian residential schools system.
At the end of their fall meeting, the bishops released a statement saying they “embraced” the calls, and acknowledged “the efforts of the staff of the General Synod to put in place a plan for how the Church will respond.” The statement did not include details on the church’s response.
“It’s important as we go forward…that the bishops are now on public record as saying we are supporting these calls to action. We will speak about them in our dioceses; we will do what we can to be agents and ambassadors for [these] calls,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
MacDonald said the bishops agreed to reconvene “sooner rather than later” to talk about the concrete measures they would take to respond to the 94 Calls to Action.
“There was a request from the bishops that we attend to this as a matter of primary importance at a meeting in the future,” he says. “In my experience, that shows a high level of commitment, engagement and interest, because time on the agenda is precious, and they’re asking for a major portion of time to be devoted to this.”
In general, MacDonald said, the church’s response to the 94 calls is likely to vary from diocese to diocese, depending, among other factors, on the size of their Indigenous population.
“It’s very, very difficult to say, ‘Well, here’s what you do,’ because of the various contexts in which the calls will be heard and implemented,” he said.
MacDonald said he was pleased by the House of Bishops’ statement embracing the calls as a group, because the process of reconciliation, he underscored, should really involve the entire church-not just, for example, dioceses that hosted residential schools.
“I’m really glad that it was done, because I’m almost certain that some Anglicans would look at it and say, ‘That doesn’t include me,’ ” he said. “And really, what the bishops were trying to say was that it includes all of us.”