Sacred Circle and General Synod are expected to vote on a draft document outlining principles to guide reconciliation in Canada when they meet this spring and summer, Council of General Synod (CoGS) heard Nov. 12.
Parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, including the Anglican Church of Canada, have produced a draft Covenant of Reconcilation in response to Call to Action 46 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Dawn Maracle, the church’s reconciliation animator, presented the current draft to Council of General Synod (CoGS) on Nov. 12. The draft was approved by the Government of Canada in April 2021 and will be brought before Sacred Circle when it meets May 28-June 2 and General Synod in July. The hope, she said is that the prime minister of Canada will approve the document’s final version next fall.
Call to Action 46 called on parties to the settlement agreement, known as 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.” Drafting of the Covenant of Reconciliation began in 2016.
Maracle asked CoGS to consider the language in the draft and provide feedback. Other churches and institutions from the All-Parties Table are currently going through their own parallel processes, she said.
“People are waiting for this work to be done,” Maracle said. “This is one of the many calls to action that haven’t been enacted yet. We want a document that we agree on, so that then each institution can create a strategic plan and start creating action steps to live out that covenant.”
“People at the All-Parties Table recognize that Indigenous people and communities and Canadians across the country are ready for this to happen … It has to happen in a way that we all agree to,” she added. “But it is time. It is time for action to start happening.”
The draft Covenant of Reconciliation reaffirms the parties’ commitment to reconciliation; repudiates concepts such as terra nullius (“nobody’s land”) used to justify European sovereignty over many Indigenous lands and peoples worldwide; adopts the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation; and supports the renewal or establishment of treaty relationships based on mutual recognition.
Presentation of the draft followed the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) report to CoGS. Canon Murray Still, ACIP co-chair, said a selection committee had finished interviewing candidates for the next national Indigenous archbishop. Still said ACIP was hoping to have a new national Indigenous archbishop in place by the end of 2022.
Members of ACIP, Still said, recently held an in-person meeting in Toronto where they shared their feelings around the loss of former national Indigenous archbishop Mark MacDonald following his resignation over acknowledged sexual misconduct.
MacDonald’s resignation “has been a big blow for us and has set us back a little bit,” Still said. “But we were also encouraged to continue to move forward in the understanding that what we have done to this point is good work, and we need to continue that good work with the help of the Holy Spirit.”
ACIP is currently planning two upcoming gatherings, he said. A young adult Sacred Circle will take place in March in Beausejour, Man. The main Sacred Circle will follow from May 28 to June 2 at the Fern Resort in Ramara, Ont., and is expected to consider endorsing the Covenant and Our Way of Life, founding documents for the self-determining Indigenous church.