Lamenting the Past and Moving Forward with Reconciliation

As people of faith, MCC is committed to addressing the legacy of and ongoing harm done to Indigenous Peoples by churches and governments, and to forging right relationships.

On June 2021, Bill C-15, the federal bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in Canadian law received Royal Assent. Now that C-15 has passed into law, MCC is consulting with Indigenous partners, communities and other stakeholders to see what is important for them as C-15 is implemented. One topic that continues to arise is defining what “meaningful consultation” looks like in practice. There is a gap between what some Indigenous communities believe consultation and implementation to be and what the federal and provincial governments are putting into practice, based on who is included and who is excluded from these spaces.

In light of the recent uncovering of unmarked graves at Indian Residential Schools (IRS), we also emphasize the call to listen and learn, especially to the stories of survivors. Many churches and religious groups, alongside the government, have been involved in running IRSs, and each is called to self-examination and where needed, new choices of submission and sacrifice. That includes Anabaptist groups, even MCC itself. There is no other way to say it: we have a hand in this story, we are not where we’d like to be in the reconciliation journey, and we have hard work ahead of ourselves. “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12.18). This might be the most challenging service yet that we might offer “in the name of Christ.”

Pictograph of a building with many small figures inside.

This graphic representation of an Indian Residential School is part of a long timeline in “pictograph” style, within the “Spirit of Alliance” art installation, Saskatoon. (MCC Photo/ Randy Klassen)

As churches and church-based agencies like MCC reflect, repent and seek reconciliation, we also look to the role of the government to bring concrete policy and process change.

This election, we can recognize the profoundly deep connections between the trauma of the IRS experience and the current realities of Indigenous children being in foster care across the nation today, the continuing violence against Indigenous women and girls, as well as so many other Indigenous justice concerns across the country: fisheries, pipelines, logging rights, clean water. These are all issues where meaningful consultation with affected Indigenous nations is essential to ensure that reconciliation can take place in a good way.

MCC calls on the Canadian government – and all Canadians – to commit to implementing the Calls to Action found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report.

Specifically, Resolutions 71-76 call on the government to investigate and release the names of children who went missing and/or were buried in unmarked graves while attending IRS. We encourage all Canadians to learn more about local land and history, and about the Indigenous peoples who call that land home.


Sample Questions to Candidates:

  • What does meaningful consultation look like to you? And how will you ensure meaningful consultation with Indigenous nations in the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples outlined in the recently passed Bill C-15?


  • In light of the recent uncovering of unmarked graves at former Indian Residential Schools, how will you prioritize the implementation of the Calls to Action found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Specifically, how will you address Calls to Action 71-76, which call on the government to investigate and release names of children who went missing while attending Indian Residential Schools?


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