TORONTO, October 6, 2000 -- The Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples has condemned "the violence, threats of violence, and intimidation tactics used by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans" in the Burnt Church lobster fishery dispute, in a statement released here today.
"Such control tactics disrespect the human rights and endanger the lives of the people of Burnt Church, while undermining the very possibility of establishing an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and resolution of the dispute," the statement reads. "In this day and age, such antiquated `Cowboys and Indians' approaches ... cannot be tolerated."
The Rt. Reverend Gordon Beardy, bishop of the Diocese of Keewatin, visited the Burnt Church community at the end of September . The statement was prepared after members of the Council had heard his eyewitness account, which they say confirms that Burnt Church is "a community under siege." Although the immediate crisis seems to have passed, the statement notes "the deep tensions and injustices underlying the dispute at Burnt Church are far from over".
"Bishop Beardy witnessed firsthand children being traumatized by the continual presence of helicopters circling overhead," the statement reads. "He heard stories of women who watched in horror as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans rammed native boats, threatening the lives of native fishers, and confiscating their traps. He spoke with young men who were nightly harassed and intimidated by the RCMP, and with community members who lived in mounting fear of violent reprisals from non-native fishers".
The Council says the government "should fully inform Canadians concerning the historical and legal facts related to the dispute at Burnt Church." The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that a treaty gives the Mi'kmaq people the right to fish, but the government has continued to act as if no such right exists.
It says the government must move immediately to conduct nation-to-nation negotiations "to ensure an equitable sharing of resources between First Nations and the larger Canadian society."
The 19-member Council represents Indigenous Anglicans in 17 dioceses (regions) of Canada. It works to renew Indigenous spiritual and cultural traditions and support self-determination for Indigenous peoples.
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A copy of the complete statement is attached.
For further information contact: Larry Beardy, Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples 204-677-3846 or 204-677-4652 or Chris Hiller, Indigenous Justice Coordinator 416-924-9199 ext 239
Contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Information Resources, 416-924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence); www.anglican.ca
Statement of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples Regarding Burnt Church
October 4, 2000
As followers of our Creator-God who calls us to justice and love, we, the members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, stand in solidarity with the Mi'kmaq people of Esgenoopetitj/Burnt Church as they continue their struggle for the recognition of their treaty rights and their dignity as a People.
Over the past few months, we have been deeply distressed by reports in the media and from ecumenical observers stationed in Burnt Church. A recent visit to the community by the Right Reverend Gordon Beardy, bishop of the Diocese of Keewatin, has confirmed what we have heard: that Burnt Church has been, and continues to be, a community under siege.
Bishop Beardy witnessed firsthand children being traumatized by the continual presence of helicopters circling overhead. He heard stories of women who watched in horror as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans rammed native boats, threatening the lives of native fishers, and confiscating their traps. He spoke with young men who were nightly harassed and intimidated by the RCMP, and with community members who lived in mounting fear of violent reprisals from non-native fishers.
In the stories of our Mi'kmaq brothers and sisters, we hear echoes of our own bitter struggles and those of our Peoples over hundreds of years, and we are deeply pained and angered.
We recognize and affirm that the people of Esgenoopetitj have ended their fishing season on their own terms, on their traditional Treaty Day. We commend them for demonstrating incredible courage and restraint in refusing to be drawn into confrontation with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans or with non-native fishers. Their ancestors have shown similar patience and restraint for hundreds of years.
While the immediate crisis on the waters of Miramichi Bay may have dissipated, we know as indigenous people that the deep tensions and injustices underlying the dispute at Burnt Church are far from over.
As members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples,
- We condemn the violence, threats of violence, and intimidation tactics used by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Such control tactics disrespect the human rights and endanger the lives of the people of Burnt Church, while undermining the very possibility of establishing an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and resolution of the dispute. In this day and age such antiquated `Cowboys and Indians' approaches, which have the effect of controlling the lives of indigenous peoples, cannot be tolerated.
- We call on the federal government and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to show patience and restraint commensurate with that shown by the people of Esgenoopetitj/Burnt Church for decades. The government and its agencies must refrain from fast and heavy-handed responses in order to create space for calm and thoughtful dialogue to prevail.
- We demand that the federal government exercise its responsibility to fully inform Canadians concerning the historical and legal facts related to the dispute at Burnt Church, rather than promoting one-sided versions that demonize indigenous peoples as `lawbreakers'. All parties, and all people living in Canada, require clear, unbiased, and complete information concerning this dispute.
- In keeping with the recommendations of Canada's `Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples' we call on the federal government to enter without delay into peaceful nation-to-nation negotiations with the people of Esgenoopetitj/Burnt Church to ensure an equitable sharing of resources between First Nations and the larger Canadian society. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the federal government can no longer assume an unrestricted and unilateral right to regulate the fishery. Instead, negotiations must be based upon the recognition of the treaty rights of the people of Esgenoopetitj to establish and manage their own fishery.
We speak in response to the cries of the people of Burnt Church and the call of our Creator, in the hope that one day justice might prevail and that all of us -- both indigenous and non-indigenous -- might one day live together in peace.
"The Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) has proposed a national summit to discuss the issue of non-stipendiary, or unpaid, aboriginal clergy, most of whom are serving in large native communities across Canada. 'Nobody wants the problem put on their laps, not because they're not concerned, but because there are no resources,' said Mark MacDonald, the national Anglican indigenous bishop. 'What we're suggesting is a cross-church consultation, a summit where a whole group of people (can discuss) what can only be described as a moral issue for all of us. There's no entity to solve it effectively'," Archbishop Caleb Lawrence said "that the house of bishops had been 'trying to address' the need but that it was having difficulty coming to an agreement with ACIP. He noted that talks between the two sides have bogged down".
Bishop Steven Charleston will lead discussions at the Winnipeg meeting, 7-10 October 2003, being held to look at the relationship between the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) and the church. The Keewatin diocesan council had hoped for a larger gathering such as a Sacred Circle and asked that the October meeting be cancelled. The meeting will deal with the dispute between ACIP and church leaders following the March 2003 agreement with the federal government about residential schools.
The October 2003 meeting in Winnipeg between ACIP [Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples] and non-native church members produced a plan of action that calls for the establishment of an eight-member commission to consider how native Anglicans can achieve "self-sufficiency" and "indigenous governance" and an indigenous bishop.
Letter to the editor from Elizabeth Beardy in which she corrects an error in the article "Schools agreement signed" (April 2003). "I attended the signing in my own right. I attended because I wanted to show the primate that I supported him. From my time at ACIP [Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples] I understood that it was the intention of ACIP that, after having expressed our concerns to the primate, that we should attend the signing to show him our support. I wanted to show my support for my bishop because I knew he was attending. I wanted to show my support for the synod of my diocese, which signed the agreement. I wanted to show my support for the whole negotiating team, including my husband."
That this Council of General Synod approves the proposal from the General Synod Planning Committee that members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous People, who are not elected members of General Synod by their diocese be invited to be partners at General Synod.
And that the appointment of additional partners, as designated by ACIP, is to be negotiated between the General Synod Planning Committee and ACIP mindful of the allocated budget of $30,000 and the possibility of ACIP augmenting this amount. CARRIED #16-11-03
"On November 18 , Indigenous ministries and the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) laid out concrete steps for how they will continue to pursue self-determination within the national church over the coming years. The plan is to start small, with Indigenous Anglicans from three or four regions that want to pursue self-determination, Archdeacon Sid Black, ACIP co-chair told the fall  meeting of Council of General Synod (CoGS) ... A focus group, co-chaired by former Indigenous ministries co-ordinator Donna Bomberry and Archdeacon Larry Beardy will oversee the details, and the initial goal will be to select leadership in a way that is in line with Indigenous practice" (p. 1, 6). "Advice on incorporation will come from former General Synod prolocutor Harry Huskins" (p. 6). "According to [Indigenous CoGS member Lay Canon Grace] Delaney, of the approximately 150 Indigenous clergy serving in the Anglican Church of Canada, most are unpaid" (p. 6). "Quebec Co-adjutor Bishop Bruce Myers, whose diocese includes the isolated Naskapi nation of Kawawachikamach, wanted to know whether this leadership model could be used there" (p. 6). "In response, Canon Virginia 'Ginny' Doctor, Indigenous ministries co-ordinator, said Indigenous ministries has already explored options, such as a 'moveable seminary' that would bring teachers to communities for intensive education, or doing the reverse and bringing Indigenous leaders in-training to a local centre for intensive, short-term education. She suggested either of these models might work in Quebec" (p. 6).