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Ottawa: Aboriginal and church leaders gathered on Parliament Hill today as part of a multi-city tour to draw public and media attention to the upcoming work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“The Truth and Reconciliation process is an opportunity for us to hear the truth about, and begin to break, the enduring chains created by Indian Residential Schools,” says the Rt. Rev. Dr. David Giuliano, the Moderator of The United Church of Canada.
Participating in the tour will be Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and representatives of the four mainline Christian churches who, along with the federal government, operated Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. The Protestant church leaders include:
“The Assembly of First Nations is pleased to begin work with churches towards reconciliation between our people and all Canadians. We need to work together to write the missing chapter of Canadian history regarding the Indian Residential Schools,” said National Chief Phil Fontaine.
Throughout the tour the Roman Catholic Church will be represented either by local bishops or individual priests and nuns whose religious orders were involved in operating residential schools.
The Remembering the Children tour includes stops in Ottawa, Vancouver, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. In addition to making themselves available for media interviews and speaking engagements in each city, the leaders will also participate in a series of public events that are being planned by local organizing committees in the four cities. One such event was held last evening at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.
Other public events include:
The leaders agreed to participate in the tour because they wanted to highlight the significance of the work to be done by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“We want to communicate the historic importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as it seeks to give a voice to residential school survivors and their families. As well, it will surely help the country to learn more about a poorly understood aspect of our nation’s history,” comments the Rev. Dr. J. H. (Hans) Kouwenberg, Moderator of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
The Aboriginal and church leaders hope the tour will also raise awareness and help to educate both church members and other Canadians about the legacy of residential schools and the impacts of colonization on Aboriginal people and their communities.
“My hope is that in the telling and in the receiving of the truth we shall as the Gospel says ‘be made free’ – free to focus more and more on healing and reconciliation, righting the wrongs of the past, honouring Aboriginal history and culture and walking together in the spirit of a renewed national resolve to respect the dignity of every human being,” explains The Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The church leaders believe that one of the most important aspects of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s work will be as a forum for former residential school students and their families to tell their stories.
“If we allow the truth to be told and have a heart to hear it, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be a doorway to a better Canada for us all. In fact, at this moment, it is the most important doorway to a liveable future,” adds The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada.
For further information about the Aboriginal and Church Leaders’ Tour, please visit: www.rememberingthechildren.ca
To arrange media interviews with church or Aboriginal leaders who are taking part in the Remembering the Children tour, please contact:
Mary-Frances Denis Karyn Pugliese
Communications Officer Communications Officer
The United Church of Canada Assembly of First Nations
416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (office) 613-241-6789 ext. 210
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2016 (toll-free) 613-292-1877
416-885-7478 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org