Living out the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Moderator Jordan Cantwell has written to all members of and communities of faith in The United Church of Canada encouraging their thoughts, prayer, and action in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Written in the context of recent events related to pipeline projects in Canada and the United States, the letter emphasizes the importance of free, prior, and informed consent as well as other principles of the Declaration. The United Church of Canada has adopted the Declaration as the framework of reconciliation, and the whole church is invited to help live it out.
8 September 2016
Dear Friends and Relations in Jesus Christ:
On 31 March 2016, I stood with representatives of the Aboriginal Ministries Council to publicly state The United Church of Canada’s commitment to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The church did this not simply to meet the challenge issued in the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), but to meet the challenge we issued ourselves 30 years ago in the Apology to First Nations People: “to walk together…in the Spirit of Christ so that our peoples may be blessed and God’s creation healed.”
And we did it to meet the challenge issued by our faith, as encapsulated in this passage from Corinthians:
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself…and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. (2 Corinthians 5:18–19)
Yet, as Paul reminds us in his earlier letter to the Corinthians, our words have no meaning unless they are accompanied by love and intent. And so now I write to ask you, as communities of faith and members of The United Church of Canada, to think, pray, and act in support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
You may be asking why the church has placed such a priority on this document. You may be wondering what it has to do with you. You may question how a document developed at the United Nations can do anything to improve relations among the peoples of Canada.
The answer to all these questions is that the UN Declaration offers us a new way of understanding how we are in relationship with each other. Not a relationship of domination, but a relationship of mutuality, equity, and respect. And we must all, as individuals, as a church, and as a nation, do our part to build that new relationship.
Read the rest of the letter here.