That this Council of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada support the Gitxsan Nation in its appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada and request the Primate to communicate this support to the Chiefs of the Gitxsan Nation, to Bishop John Hannen of the Diocese of Caledonia, and to the leaders and congregations of the Anglican Churches in the Gitxsan territory, the Rev. Robert McLeod and Mrs. Lorna Janze. CARRIED #38-05-97
See background information attached as Appendix 4.
Text of Appendix 4 follows:
Gitxsan Nation Appeal
The Gitxsan Nation is appealing the Provincial Court ruling and Provincial Appeal Court ruling at the Supreme Court of Canada on June 16th and 17th, a997.
They are asking for recognition that they are the first people of the land (carbon-dated 10,000 years) and have a legitimate right to fight for justice from Canada and British Columbia for their traditional territories. That their rights were not extinguished at Confederation.
They are asking for recognition that they have always shown the desire to co-exist.
They are asking fot recognition of past injustices from various institutions and governments.
They are asking for recognition that the Gitxsan are a well organized society with a long tradition of established social, legal and economic structures.
The Gitxsan people are the dominant culture and the invisible majority of the population in our area of the Diocese of Caledonia.
Continuity of Information : Diocese-to-Province-to-General Synod
Diane Brookes' concern related to the lack of communication between the three levels of Synods -- diocesan, provincial and general. This may be an issue unique to the Diocese of the Arctic, but Diane felt that Council would be able to offer suggestions on how best to approach this concern. The consensus seemed to be that, to serve as a delegate to all three levels would be physically, spiritually and emotionally exhausting. A suggestions was made that the reporting all be done in writing and circulated to members of synods and executive committee. Diane will take this advice back to her diocese and expressed her thanks for the help from the members of COGS.
Gitxsan Nation Update
Lorna Janze thanked COGS members for the resolution of support that was forwarded to all Chiefs of this Nation. No information has been forthcoming from the Supreme Court.
Vision TV : cable channel line-up
A pamphlet regarding the moving of Vision TV to Channel 59 in the Toronto area, and similar changes in other areas, was noted. This will affect General Synod broadcasts in 1998 as many locations do not receive Channel 59.
That the Council of General Synod ask the General Secretary to write to the appropriate individuals/companies raising COGS' concerns. CARRIED #24-11-97
TORONTO (7 August 1998) -- From Lambeth Conference, Canterbury, Kent, England.
For the last three weeks I've been living among 750 Anglican bishops gathered at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, for the Lambeth Conference, an event that happens only once every ten years. We've spent most of our time in bible study, prayer and worship, but we've also considered issues that are important in the life of Canada, and of the world.
News reports about the Lambeth Conference have tended to focus on the controversial resolution regarding human sexuality (about which more in a moment). Indeed, if you were to read reports in the English press, they'd have you convinced we spoke of nothing else ! Here are [a] few significant points from the rest of the agenda.
Agonizing decisions will increase
Among this newspaper's readers today are some who are confronting agonizing decisions about medical treatment for loved ones who are no longer capable of making decisions for themselves. At what point, if ever, should the goal of medical treatment shift from prolonging life, to easing the transition from life to death ? The number and complexity of these decisions is likely to increase radically in the next ten years, spurred on both by the aging of the population, and by continuing advances in medical technology.
In an area in which we acknowledge there are few easy answers, Lambeth's contribution has been to offer some ethical guidelines -- signposts, if you will, by which people confronting stark choices about life and death may be helped to determine their personal directions and paths.
As Christians, we affirm as a first principle that life is a gift of God and has intrinsic sanctity, significance, and worth. The Lambeth Conference has drawn a distinction between active and passive responses to issues at the end of life. We believe it is not consistent with Christian faith to take any action which is intended to cause the death of another, even one who is suffering in a painful terminal illness. On the other hand, it may be consistent with Christian faith to enable someone to die with dignity by "withholding, withdrawing, declining or terminating excessive medical treatment." These latter responses are not viewed as euthanasia in our precise definition.
Admittedly, the distinction is a subtle one, but so are the decisions with which many are struggling. I hope Lambeth's exploration of the issues will help those making such choices to explore their own convictions.
News from home
About the only Canadian news to make in into the English press over the past few weeks was the historic signing of the treaty between the Nisga'a people and the governments of British Columbia and Canada. It came as Lambeth was urging compliance with the United Nations universal declaration of human rights, in part as a way of supporting the claims of indigenous peoples. A portion of the Lambeth report reads:
"In every case indigenous peoples are disproportionately poor, have little access to a good education and health care, suffer from higher death rates, and in Australia and the United States are often prone to alcohol and drug addiction. In every case, the plight of these people is given a very low profile. They are ignored and their needs are given low priority. They are not treated as 'neighbours', let alone 'brothers or sisters'.
The Anglican Church has been closely involved with the Nisga'a people, giving modest but unwavering support. Both John Hannen, the bishop of Caledonia, and I have been formally invested as Nisga'a chieftains. News of the signing in this context came as a moment of pride and joy. We share the hope of the Nisga'a and political leaders, that this signing signals the beginning of reconciliation.
Lifting an intolerable burden
Over the past 20 years, some of the poorest countries in the world have been hit by a double whammy. Interest rates on their debts have risen sharply and, at the same time, the prices they can get for their products have fallen.
Changing political realities often lend a cruel twist to international debt. In South Africa, for example, debt repayment is the second largest expenditure in the government budget (after education). Ironically, the debt was incurred by the apartheid regime and its proceeds largely went to paying for the racist oppression of the people who are now paying it off ! The situation is not unique to South Africa.
Overall, for every dollar we in the developing world send overseas as aid, eight dollars comes back as interest, according to the international development organization, Christian Aid. At the same time, the president of the World Bank, Jim Wolfensohn, told the Lambeth Conference that more than 3 billion people now live on less than $2 a day. The World Bank has conceded the point that this ballooning debt, by any realistic standard, can never be repaid -- and that it is one of the most serious barriers to development.
A coalition of Christian and development groups is urging that the debt of the poorest countries be cancelled by the year 2000. For Christians, this initiative is bound up with the Biblical concept of "Jubilee", a time of forgiveness and restoration. For Canadians generally, forgiving the debt of the poorest countries would have a modest economic impact on us, so that the growing disparity between rich and poor at least has a moment when the bottom moves slightly closer to the top.
In Canada, as in most countries of the world, we recognize that a person crushed by debt is unproductive. It is to our advantage that a means be provided to lift that unequal burden, and so our laws provide the option of bankruptcy, allowing the individual to make a fresh start. Similarly, a fresh start is urgently needed on the international scene. Canadians should support the international campaign for debt cancellation.
Upholding virtue or promoting hatred ?
Just what did Lambeth say about human sexuality ? There are two parts to any message: the actual content, and the way the message is perceived. In its content, the Lambeth resolution on human sexuality:
- "upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union;
- "commits [the bishops] to listen to the experience of homosexual people. We wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ";
- rejects "homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture", but "calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex";
- "cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same-sex unions, nor the ordination of those involved in such unions".
The perception of this message varies from those who receive it with joy as a vindication of traditional Christian teaching and those who find it a devastating betrayal of the gospel of love.
Canada's 1995 General Synod acted to "affirm the presence and contributions of gay men and lesbians in the life of the church and condemn bigotry, violence and hatred directed toward any due to their sexual orientation". This message obviously contains a considerably stronger affirmation of gay and lesbian Christians than the Lambeth text. Even so, much of the content of the Lambeth statement, strictly speaking, is broadly in accord with the current policy of the Anglican Church of Canada. (Canada's policies remain in force since the Lambeth Conference has only advisory, not legislative authority.)
However, I must disassociate myself from any who perceive this action as a "victory". Canadians generally will have been scandalized by some of the reported comments, as were Canadian bishops here. The debate was marked at times by outright condemnation of homosexual persons, sometimes phrased in viciously prejudicial language. This is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ as I understand it.
I have already joined with many other bishops in writing a pastoral letter to gay and lesbian Anglicans. It reads, in part, "We pledge that we will continue to reflect, pray, and work for your full inclusion in the life of the church ... We will call on the entire Communion to continue (and in many places, begin) prayerful, respectful conversation on the issue of homosexuality. We must not stop where this Conference has left off. You, our brothers and sisters in Christ, deserve a more thorough hearing than you received over the past three weeks. We will work to make that so."
Moment of transfiguration
The most moving moment came for me yesterday [Thursday] as I attended a worship service led by the church in Japan, on the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
As we entered the service, we received copies of an apology from the Japanese church for its complicity in wartime aggression. With wonderful generosity and hospitality, the Japanese church had invited an English priest to preach. The Rev. Susan Cole-King told how her father, then bishop of Singapore, was imprisoned and tortured by the Japanese military in 1943. The church's apology had brought her a deep sense of reconciliation. (She also reminded us Westerners of our own complicity in the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and urged us to continue working for the eradication of nuclear weapons.)
For me, the service evoked two intensely personal memories. The first occurred in my early childhood, in Vancouver, when one of my playmates and his family abruptly disappeared without notice. Much later, I later came to understand why there were always pieces of Japanese decorative arts in my living room; they were among the belongings my father, in the name of the government of Canada, had helped to confiscate. The second memory is more recent. It concerns my experience, five years ago, of apologising on behalf of our church for the abuses suffered by native people in the residential schools we administered. It was a moment of great pain, but it was the beginning of liberation.
In the middle of the Japanese service I wept as I relived those moments. The church is an imperfect reflection of God's reign; a deeply flawed institution. Far too often, it has brought pain instead of healing. And yet, as the Japanese Church showed, it is also a place where we can be open to transformation. When the gospel reaches into our lives, and challenges us, it can enable us to face very difficult truths and to both seek -- and bestow -- forgiveness.
Archbishop Michael Peers is the Primate of Canada. The full text of Lambeth Conference reports and resolutions can be found at www.lambethconference.org.
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For further information contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Information Resources, Anglican Church of Canada, 416-924-9199 ext. 286 Until 5PM GMT [Noon EST] Saturday, August 8 011-44-1227-828-090 firstname.lastname@example.org
After Saturday, August 8, Contact: Karen Evans, Librarian, Anglican Church of Canada, 416-924-9199 ext. 291 email@example.com
TORONTO, July 18, 1995 -- The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada is urging Prime Minister Jean Chretien and British Columbia Premier Michael Harcourt to break the impasse in the Nisga'a Treaty negotiations.
"The time has come for the exercise of political will. Otherwise the negotiations will end up being held hostage to short-term political interests," said Archbishop Michael Peers.
"I call upon the Prime Minister and the Premier to become personally involved in this. They must not allow these talks to perish. We need our political leaders to exercise the statesmanship which they have previously demonstrated. We cannot allow First Nations to believe that, having negotiated in good faith, their treaties will be sacrificed to federal-provincial bickering."
Last week talks between the federal and provincial negotiators and the Nisga'a Tribal Council from north western British Columbia broke down when the two governments could not resolve a disagreement about a funding formula. The breakdown occurred on the very day that the British Columbia government had set as an extended deadline for all sides to announce the terms and progress of negotiations.
"The Nisga'a have conducted themselves at the bargaining table in a patient and responsible manner. It is not responsible for governments to walk away now because they cannot agree between themselves," said Archbishop Peers. "The time is now, for the sake of future generations, to say we can and will solve these differences. Otherwise it will seem desperate for many First Nations people, and they may very well come to believe once again that `justice delayed is justice denied It will be tragic if that becomes the only outcome of these negotiations."
The Anglican Church of Canada, at the meeting of 34th General Synod held in Ottawa in June, expressed its will about these negotiations in a resolution that urges both the government of Canada and British Columbia "to bring forward proposals that will provide a land and resource base sufficient to assure self determination for the Nisga'a people ... and to settle all outstanding native land claims in a just and expedient manner."
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Contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Communication 416-924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence)
That this 35th session of the General Synod reaffirm its commitment to a just and speedy settlement of unresolved aboriginal claims and, through the Primate, urge the governments of Canada and British Columbia to conclude the treaty with the Nisga'a people, as expeditiously as possible, honouring all commitments already made. CARRIED WITHOUT DEBATE Act 73
Abstentions were noted from Chancellor David Wright, Captain Baxter Park, Captain Todd Meaker, Mr. Bryan Campbell and Canon Andrew Gates.