As Pope Francis’ visit to Turtle Island demonstrated time and again, words of truth and reconciliation, no matter how apologetic, will not have the fullest possible outcome without accompanying action.
September 30 will be the second time Canada marks National Truth and Reconciliation Day. We’ve taken our photos in orange shirts. We’ve watched the Doctrine of Discovery. Perhaps you’ve done the Blanket Exercise.
We are learning to be consistent in our practice of acknowledging the gift of the land on which we peaceably lead our lives in and beyond this diocese. We are learning the history of residential schools and finding out we are not who we thought we were as Settlers in this place.
The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society has created the “Ways to Make a Difference” campaign for First Nations children and their families. The Caring Society is led by a brilliant and compassionate social worker, Cindy Blackstock. Blackstock is a Canadian Gitxsan activist for child welfare and a professor for the School of Social Work at McGill University.
There are various campaigns to learn about and sign onto, advocating for change. For example, the “I Am a Witness” campaign invites people to learn about the case on First Nations child welfare and Jordan’s Principle, and to decide for themselves whether or not they think there is discrimination against First Nations children and youth.
Jordan’s Principle is another of the seven ways to act. Learn and then advocate for change. Jordan’s Principle ensures First Nations children can access the supports they need, when they need them. Payment disputes within and between federal and provincial or territorial governments over services and supports for First Nations children are common. First Nations children are frequently left waiting for supports they desperately need, or are denied supports that are available to other children.
What action can we take as a diocese to make a difference this year?
Two events are being hosted by the Diocese of Niagara for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On the evening of Wednesday, September 28, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., we will hold a “Listening to Indigenous Voices” session online, including a virtual tour of Woodland Cultural Centre.
On September 30, which is also Orange Shirt Day, a second gathering will take place from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon. This will be a hybrid event with people invited to attend in person (location to be announced) or from home. This will build on Wednesday’s event, but it is not necessary to attend the first to be at the second. To register for either or both dates, please email Deirdre Pike or call 905-527-1316, ext. 470.
Learn more about the Ways to Make a Difference.