That General Synod support Native people in their opposition to the recommendations of the Nielsen Task Force: "Improved Program Delivery-Indians and Natives: A Study Team Report to the Task Force on Program Review"; and
That General Synod inform the Prime Minister of Canada and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development of its continued support for Native self-determination. CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS Act 32
That General Synod reaffirm its position that resource development should not take place on unsurrendered land until either there is a claims agreement in place or terms governing that development are negotiated satisfactorily with the Native people concerned, and that the National Executive Council be instructed to continue the implementation of this commitment. CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS Act 30
That this General Synod reaffirm its support of aboriginal peoples in their efforts to obtain justice through the recognition of aboriginal title, aboriginal rights and treaty rights and through a just settlement of land claims. CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS Act 29
That this Council of General Synod join with the Aboriginal Rights Coalition and the Canadian Ecumenical Jubilee Initiative in calling on the federal government "to act immediately to establish a truly independent commission with the mandate to implement Aboriginal land, treaty and inherent rights." CARRIED #05-11-00
The Most Rev. Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has accused the federal government of ignoring "its constitutional responsibility to deal directly with the Mohawk Nation" to resolve the aboriginal land rights conflict at Oka, Quebec.
In a first letter to the Prime Minister, dated July 12, Archbishop Peers urged the Federal Government to "become more directly involved with the negotiations until there is a land claims agreement in place which is acceptable to the Mohawk nation." He also urged that the situation be resolved by nonviolent means; that all armaments be put down; and that the police be withdrawn.
He pointed out that "underlying the conflict are the issues of Land Claims and development of Aboriginal Lands. These issues are a federal responsibility."
In a follow-up letter, dated July 26, the Primate expressed dismay that the federal government continues to ignore its constitutional responsibility to deal directly with the Mohawk Nation.
"The actions of your government lead me to the conclusion that you reject the Supreme Court of Canada's position in the recent Sparrow case that 'the relationship between the Government and aboriginals is trust-like, rather than adversarial...'."
"I am also disturbed," he added, "by the continuation of human rights violations by the Surete du Quebec. Yesterday the Quebec Human Rights Commission declared that 'the massive police operation against Mohawks in Oka is illegal'. The provincial police, through harassment and discrimination, are violating the fundamental rights of people living behind blockades, including the denial of food and medical services. As External Affairs Minister Joe Clark told the House of Commons two years ago, 'food should not be used as a weapon.'."
The Anglican Church of Canada has long been an advocate of the justice struggles of Native peoples in Canada. The General Synod in 1989 expressed its support of nonviolent direct action in defence of unsurrendered Aboriginal Ancestral land, stating "That Aboriginal Peoples and Anglicans and others involved in nonviolent direct action in defence of unsurrendered Aboriginal ancestral lands and their environment be supported."
"It is crucial that the Federal Government make the just settlement of land claims a priority. Such action would do much to create healing between the government and the First Nations of this land" the letter concludes.
For more information, contact: The Reverend Peter Hamel, Anglican Church of Canada, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario, 416-924-9192
TORONTO (Dec. 12) -- The Anglican Church welcomes the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling recognizing the rights of native peoples to the ownership of ancestral lands that have not specifically been signed away through treaties.
The ruling overturned a previous British Columbia ruling dealing with land claims by the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en people. The Supreme Court ruled that the trial judge erred in not recognizing the validity of native peoples' oral history and ordered a new trial.
Donna Bomberry, the Anglican Church's Coordinator of Indigenous Ministries, said she hopes the decision will open up a new era in the way governments deal with native land claims.
She added that because of the level at which the ruling was made, it is likely to have repercussions on many other land claims throughout the country.
"I feel elated," Ms. Bomberry said. "It is a real breakthrough in the way land rights issues should be handled."
Catherine Morrison, the Anglican Church's Coordinator of Indigenous Justice, said that with this ruling, Canada recognizes the value of the history and culture of native people. The decision, she added refutes the trial judge's statement that "aboriginal life in the territory was at best nasty, brutish and short."
"With this ruling, we are seeing a level of respect for aboriginal peoples that has not existed since the first settlers were welcomed to this country," Ms. Morrison said.
Last spring, the Anglican Council of General Synod passed a resolution expressing its support for the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en people in its battle through the courts. The church has also supported them through the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, its EcoJustice Committee and the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund.
- 30 -
For more information, contact Donna Bomberry at (416) 924-9199 ext. 626; email email@example.com; or Catherine Morrison, (416) 924-9199 ext. 239; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Information Resources: 416-924-9199 ext. 286; 905-335-8349 (residence) or Sam Carriere, Editor, Print Resources: 416-924-9199 ext. 256