Statement from CPJ on TRC Calls to Action

In June of 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released 94 Calls to Action to guide us towards a repaired relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and a more just and equitable future. 

CPJ has released a statement in response to the TRC's Call to Action #48, which states:
"We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement, and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation."

Read the statement below.

CPJ has also endorsed the KAIROS Education for Reconciliation campaign in support of the TRC's Call to Action #62.i, which states: 
"We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples and educators to make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students."

Read the endorsement below.

Statement from CPJ on TRC Call to Action #48

March 30, 2016

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ), is a member-driven, faith-based public policy organization, based in Ottawa, focused on ecological justice, refugee rights and poverty elimination. Our work on poverty in Canada and climate change has often led us into relationships with Indigenous peoples and organizations, as we share struggles for public justice. Around the world, the imposition of various models of market fundamentalism propelled the seizure of traditional territories, the colonization of Indigenous peoples, and disrespect for Indigenous cultures and spiritual expressions. Christians all-too-often were an essential part of these oppressive power structures. In Canada, many abuses in Indian Residential Schools, run by four Christian churches, occurred as a result of terribly misguided social and economic policies as well as racist notions of cultural and theological superiority.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has documented this sad history, and in 2015, presented 94 Calls to Action. In particular, #48 asked all religious denominations and faith groups to issue a statement, no later than March 31, 2016, outlining how we would implement the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Although reconciliation can take many forms, the TRC views this UN Declaration as the proper framework through which national reconciliation should take place.

CPJ’s Commitment to Implementing UNDRIP

CPJ has listened to our Indigenous sisters and brothers, and wishes to reiterate our steadfast intent to engage in reconciliation. We have heard Dr. Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Caring Society explain that reconciliation means not having to say you’re sorry – twice. Nēhiyaw student Erica Lee understands reconciliation as “Indigenous liberation.” Both are making the point that engaging in true reconciliation must be an on-going process to transform Canadian values, social relations and even the dominant economic drivers. CPJ accepts this challenge.

In the past, CPJ has acted on this commitment, beginning with our work in the 1970’s to question the need for the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. CPJ undertook the production of educational resources (such as Wiciwetowin, a study and action resource kit for faith communities to advance aboriginal rights, and publishing two editions of the book: Nation to Nation: Aboriginal Sovereignty and the Future of Canada.) CPJ also supported the claims of the Anishnabai of Grassy Narrows, the Lubicon Cree of Northern Alberta, the Ingenika of Northern BC, and the Nisga’a among others. Indigenous solidarity has been expressed more recently in our efforts with Dignity for All: The Campaign for a poverty-free Canada, and climate justice activities. This year, we will undertake a study of all our program areas with a view to discerning how our work might more fully resound with the recommendations of the TRC, in the framework of the UNDRIP, and how our current efforts could enhance reconciliation efforts underway throughout Canadian society – especially among people of faith.

As people who believe in covenant relationships, we hold this promise to Indigenous Canadians as a sacred and on-going pledge.

Will Postma, 
Chair of the CPJ Board

Education for Reconciliation Endorsement

A joint action by KAIROS & the Legacy of Hope Foundation on TRC Call to Action 62.i

In June of 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released 94 Calls to Action to guide us towards a repaired relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and a more just and equitable future. 

The TRC concluded that education is key to reconciliation.  It has the potential to end in one generation a profound ignorance about our history that continues to perpetuate intolerance and racism.  

We support the KAIROS and Legacy of Hope Foundation campaign for urgent implementation of TRC 62i which calls for  the federal, provincial and territorial governments, in consultation with Indigenous peoples,  “to make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, treaties and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.”

The proposed curriculum change, where Indigenous wisdom is the foundation, will transform both the education system and Canadian society.   Knowing and understanding the truth about our collective past is an important step toward a brighter, more positive, more respectful future.  We believe that with the truth we can touch both the hearts and the minds of Canada’s children so that they can become leaders in building the reconciliation our country so desperately needs.