Proposal for Canadian Indigenous-Settler Reconciliation Process Approved

Proposal for Canadian Indigenous-Settler Reconciliation Process Approved
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When it met in May, the Christian Reformed Church’s Canada Corporation approved a proposal for a new process to build reconciliation with Indigenous communities. Canada Corporation is the Canadian portion of the Council of Delegates, the governance body that acts on behalf of the CRC’s synod between its annual meetings.

The proposal was authored by Canadian ministries director Darren Roorda, Mike Hogeterp, director of the CRC’s Centre for Public Dialogue, and Shannon Perez, a justice reconciliation mobilizer. They wrote that reconciliation “is not all expressions of regret and warm feelings of forgiveness and new relationships. It is challenging and deep work that must wrestle with the reality of systemic racism in our history and its legacy in social structures and in our ways of being the church. … If our reconciliation efforts are to be more than noble words, the CRC needs to wrestle with our complicity in cultural/spiritual arrogance and spiritual violence.”

The proposal includes a pilot project for two learning communities, one in eastern Canada and the other in the west, during late 2020. From there, eight to 10 learning communities will be formed in different regions of the country, leading to cross-cultural events in 2021 and 2022.

The proposal suggests that the next Canadian National Gathering focus on an “ongoing journey of reconciliation/decolonization.” The Canadian National Gathering takes place every three years with delegates from across the country. The next one is scheduled for 2022, but Canada Corp. could be asked to delay it until 2023 to allow for more money to be earmarked for the reconciliation process, the proposal suggests.

Hogeterp acknowledged that it is an ambitious schedule. “Staging allows us to do some learning on this in the first 12 months,” he told delegates. “It gives us two and a half to three years to center deeply on this. It really emphasizes the gravity of this conversation. It is a step in the right direction. Reconciliation is a long and relational road.”

The last formal denominational activity on reconciliation was at a cross-cultural ministry forum in 2000. The report after that consultation was called Hearts Exchanged. This new process is being tagged Hearts Exchanged 2.0.

The CRC in Canada supports three urban Indigenous ministries in Edmonton, Alta., Regina, Sask., and Winnipeg, Man.

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.

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Comments

Notwithstanding the human capacity for sinful behavior, I am deeply perplexed by the statement that the Christian Reformed Church in Canada “must wrestle with the reality of systemic racism in our history and its legacy in social structures and in our ways of being the church. …If our reconciliation efforts are to be more than noble words, the CRC needs to wrestle with our complicity in cultural/spiritual arrogance and spiritual violence.”

 

The authors of the statement falsely appropriate and assign guilt to an ethnic community that did not exist in Canada until the 1950’s, if only marginally from the 1890’s to that date. Moreover, this is a community that  sequestered itself from mainline society through parallel societal structures during the 1950’s and 60’s like many immigrant communities. Moreover, governmental treaty arrangements with aboriginal peoples, as well as, government residential schools administered by various churches pre-date the arrival of Dutch immigrants who formed the CRCNA church community in the post war period.

 

For denominational administrators to state that we as CRC congregants need to deal with “our complicity” is not only duplicitous, but shows a lack of pastoral concern for the Body of Christ. As Christians we are called to act with justice and mercy, not to unilaterally attribute guilt to an ethno-religious community without historical grounds.

 

Due to the implied racism with respect to “our complicity” the Council of Delegates might well be advised to reconsider rolling out this proposal at the next Canadian National Gathering for the welfare of the CRC church community.

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