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Churches recommit to justice for Aboriginal peoples

   
 

Lois Cole Neufeld and Robert J. Suderman were invited to join the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, along with other church bodies, in a joint statement of recommitment to Aboriginal justice in Canada.

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June 22, 2007
- by Dan Dyck

WINNIPEG — Representatives of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Central Committee, together with representatives of numerous Canadian church organizations, marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of a document entitled A New Covenant: Towards the Constitutional Recognition and Protection of Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada here on June 21.

Robert J. Suderman, General Secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, and Lois Coleman Neufeld, Director of National Programs for Mennonite Central Committee Canada, jointly made the following statement: “We commit Mennonite Central Committee Canada, and Mennonite Church Canada, to the vision of a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Peoples, based on sharing, respect and the recognition of rights and responsibilities.” Representatives of other bodies committed themselves with the same statement, substituting the names of their respective organizations.

The invitation to the event came from KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiative, and the Anglican Church of Canada, and welcomed several Aboriginal groups to attend including representatives of the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, Manitoba Métis Federation, and Native Women’s Association of Canada.

The original Covenant was presented at a special Aboriginal Summit in Toronto on February 5, 1987 (see www.mennonitechurch.ca/tiny/396). In addition to the general message of righting Aboriginal injustices, the document included the statement “Many of these Aboriginal peoples, whose ancestors have inhabited this country since time immemorial, are members of our churches.” The Covenant further pledged Church organizations to support Aboriginal Peoples in Canada in their continued struggle for justice and self-determination.

The signing this month is a renewal of that commitment. Leaders also committed themselves to draft a New Covenant by December 2007 as a collaboration of churches and Aboriginal organizations. This initiative is guided by Kairos on behalf of its member churches.

The commemoration event was part of a day of joint meeting and reflection between the members of the governing bodies of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. About 800 delegates of these two church bodies were in attendance.

Among the churches and related bodies present at the commemoration were the Anglican Church of Canada, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Canadian Council of Churches, Christian Reformed Church of Canada, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, and United Church of Canada.