United Church Supports Mi’kmaq Treaty Rights

The Moderator and the Executive Minister for Indigenous Ministries and Justice Writes to the Church

A Mi’kmaq drummer pauses during a prayer, Saulnierville, NS.
Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Regional Council 15 of the United Church of Canada, which has a long history of solidarity with Indigenous peoples asserting their treaty rights, is asking the rest of the church to join them in honouring the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1752 as Mi’kmaq lobster fishers exercising their treaty right to a fishery are confronted with racism and violence.

Moderator Richard Bott and Indigenous Ministries Executive Minister Murray Pruden have responded with a letter to the church that says, in part, that “As a church that has repudiated colonial doctrines and committed itself to Indigenous rights, to the ongoing work of building right relations, and to opposing racism in all of its forms, we cannot remain silent.”

Regional Council 15 is also asking for prayers from across the church.

On Friday, October 23, a small interfaith delegation will visit Mi’kmaq community members in Saulnierville, NS.  In the face of the violence, vandalism, and tension that the Mi’kmaq people have experienced, the purpose of this visit is to listen, show support, and share prayers for peace and healing.

Individuals and communities of faith are invited to share in this action by taking a moment for prayer at 2 p.m. AST on Friday, October 23.  Regional Council 15 has prepared the following Prayer for Peace and Healing for your use.

Prayer for Peace and Healing: Mi’kmaq Fishing Dispute

Prepared by Regional Council 15 of The United Church of Canada

For use on Friday, October 23, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. AT, 2:30 p.m. NL, 1:00 p.m. ET, 12:00 p.m. CT, 11:00 a.m. MT, 10:00 a.m. PT.

As you pray, you might pause and light a candle, or simply step outside for a moment and find a symbol of connection that speaks to you.

Using words, song, silence, or whatever form your prayers take, join hearts from afar in Peace and Friendship.

Creator God, Holy Mystery, Source of Life and Love

Thank you for the gift of life, all life.

Thank you for the endless ways we are reminded that we are connected―all peoples, all the creatures, all plants, all lands, all waters, and the air around us. When one part suffers, the pain ripples out.

Our hearts ache today with the pain felt by our Mi’kmaq relatives, who have suffered violence, vandalism, threats, racial discrimination, and broken trusts as they try  peacefully to exercise their right to fish. May they be surrounded with healing and strength. May they feel solidarity and support. May they be kept safe from further harm.

We pray for our non-Mi’kmaq relatives. May there be healing for the pain, fear, or anger that has driven some to harmful words and actions, and others to silence. We pray for openness to the righting of relationships.

We pray for our leaders at every level. May they be guided by wisdom and humility. May they use their voices and their power to build systems that uphold safety, dignity, and respect for all.

Finally, we pray for ourselves, that our hearts and our minds remain open to understanding our responsibilities toward living into Peace and Friendship, knowing that we are all still Treaty people.

“Knowing that you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God.”*

Amen

*Closing words from daily prayer from the Centre for Action and Contemplation. Copyright © 2018 by CAC. Used by permission of CAC. All rights reserved worldwide.

~ adapted from United Church of Canada webpage

Download the letter to the church here.

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