Winnipeg, May 6, 1994 -- The trend toward native self-government has taken another step forward, this time in the church. A group of Aboriginal Anglicans has agreed to work toward the creation of "a new, self-determining community within the Anglican Church of Canada."
The decision arises from a consultation of 20 Aboriginal Anglican leaders which was called to advise the church on priorities. The group, which included members of the Church's Council for Native Ministries and Aboriginal members of other national committees, presented a statement to the church's national executive council, meeting in Winnipeg this week.
The statement invites the Anglican Church "to covenant with us, the indigenous Anglicans of Canada, in our vision of a new and enriched journey."
"We were elated by how clearly we all felt led to this unanimous vision," said Donna Bomberry, chair of the Council for Native Ministries. "We felt the presence of the Holy Spirit all through the gathering. Every day we shared traditional [aboriginal religious] teachings, scripture readings, the eucharist and biblical reflection."
"We feel like new missionaries," said the Rev. Arthur Anderson, an Aboriginal member of the national executive council. "We are bringing a proposal to our church for a new spiritual relationship between ourselves and non-native Anglicans."
Archbishop Michael Peers, the church's Primate, notes that the church began a fundamental reviews of its relationship with native people 25 years ago, after a national report called its practices into question. "Since that time, we've worked at ways to increase our sensitivity to the needs and hopes of Aboriginal people. The dialogue that will be created by this initiative is a further step along that road.
This is a sign of increased self-confidence, and a perception within the Aboriginal community that the rest of the church is ready and willing for this dialogue," he said. "Much of that dialogue will take place in local congregations and in dioceses."
The initiative comes at time when the church is examining all of its structures and priorities. The National Executive Council has welcomed the Aboriginal initiative and pledged its "prayerful support and dialogue" throughout the process of developing a new relationship.
Aboriginal people are estimated to make up about four percent of Canadian Anglicans. There are approximately 210 Aboriginal congregations, 70 Aboriginal clergy, and two "suffragan" (assistant) bishops.
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Contact: John Bird, media relations (416) 924-9199, ext. 256
Other participants in the native consultation are available for comment in other parts of the country: Donna Bomberry -- (905) 563-8510 (Niagara Peninsula), The Rev. Margaret Waterchief -- (403) 651-3246 (Southern Alberta), The Rev. Martin Wolfleg -- (604) 224-2597 (Vancouver), Esther Wesley -- (705) 267-7911 (Timmins, Ontario), Olive Elm -- (519) 652-2714 (h) (Southwestern Ontario), Morris Fiddler -- (807) 471-2520 (Northwestern Ontario), The Rev. Joshua Arreak -- (819) 979-3542 (Iqaluit, Nunavut), The Rev. James Isbister -- c/o (306) 763-8781 (Prince Albert, Sask.), The Rev. Murray Still -- (306) 734-2332 (Southern Saskatchewan), Audrey McKay -- (604) 621-3278 (w) or 3324 (h) (Nass Valley, BC), Vi Samaha -- (604) 458-2330 (central British Columbia), The Rev. Lily Bell -- (604) 626-3559 (Haida Gwaii)
[Text of Covenant reads as follows:]
We, representatives of the indigenous people of the Anglican Church of Canada, meeting in Winnipeg from the 23 to 26 of April, 1994, pledge ourselves to this covenant for the sake of our people and in trust of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ:
Under the guidance of God's Spirit, we agree to do all we can to call our people into unity in a new, self-determining community within the Anglican Church of Canada.
To this end, we extend the hand of partnership to all those who will help us build a truly Anglican Indigenous Church in Canada.
May God bless this new vision and give us grace to accomplish it. Amen.
Background to Covenant:
Our Journey of Spiritual Renewal
We, the indigenous partners in Canada of the Anglican Communion respectfully affirm our place in God's Creation and in God's Love, manifest through the Grace of Jesus Christ. In specific, we address the Anglican Canadians with whom we are in direct Communion.
We have shared a journey of close to three centuries in which we have been:
- denied our place in God's Creation
- denied our right as Children of God
- treated as less than equal; and
- subjected to abuse, culturally, physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually.
The result, in our communities, homes and daily lives, has been and continues to be:
- broken homes and lives;
- sexual and family violence;
- high recidivism and incarceration rates;
- high chemical abuse;
- loss of spiritual fulfillment;
- loss of cultures, languages and traditions; and
- poor stewardship of Mother Earth.
Because the National Church's canons, structure and policies have not always responded to our needs nor heard our voice; we now claim our place and responsibility as equal partners in a new shared journey of healing moving towards wholeness and justice.
We acknowledge that God is calling us to a prayerful dialogue towards self-determination for us, the Indigenous People, within the Anglican Communion in Canada. Through this new relationship we can better respond to the challenges facing us in a relevant and meaningful way.
As faithful people of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, we invite you, the Anglican Communion of Canada, to covenant with us, the Indigenous Anglicans of Canada, in our vision of a new and enriched journey.
As of January 30, 2003 18 dioceses had ratified the agreement. Describes the efforts of Archbishop Peers and Archdeacon Boyles to explain the agreement and the materials available. Page 3 has a chart of each diocese's situation.
TORONTO, (February 19) -- Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has issued a statement in which he says that military action against Iraq cannot lead to a more stable or peaceful Middle East. He urged church members to pray for "a just and peaceable outcome in this tense situation".
The text of the statement:
"Once again it appears possible that Canada may join with the United States in a punitive attack against Iraq.
"In similar circumstances seven years ago I issued a moral reflection on that action based upon the classic Christian criteria for determining the justifiability of a particular war, and judged by those criteria such aggressive intervention was not justified then.
"I believe that this judgment still stands in the present circumstances and I urge continued diplomatic efforts toward resolution.
"One of the traditional criteria requires that the use of force be proportional to the situation. The proposed military intervention arises from the Iraqi government's continued defiance of United Nations resolutions. Of course, the most satisfactory outcome would be compliance by the Iraqi government with the United Nations resolutions. However, South Africa's defiance during the apartheid years was met with sanctions, not force, and Israel's defiance of UN resolutions about the occupation of Palestinian territory has never been challenged.
"Another criterion calls for discrimination in the use of force, that is, the protection of non-combatants. No guarantees in this area have been offered, and the evidence suggests that Iraqi civilians and civil society will suffer. As well, the United States refuses to rule out the use of nuclear weapons, a gesture which raises yet another spectre.
"Another criterion calls for a reasonable chance of success. The 1991 war may have succeeded in a military sense but did not produce a more peaceful or more stable Middle East, nor did it end the Iraqi violations of the UN resolutions, and I believe the present action has no better prospects for long-term peaceful resolution.
"I appreciate that the Canadian contribution is minimal, but I am nonetheless gravely concerned that the lives of our military personnel are being put at risk in an unjustifiable action.
"I find it impossible to see how long-term peace building and the empowering of the Iraqi people to improve their own circumstances are being served by this exercise.
"I want to associate myself with the concerns expressed by the World Council of Churches in this regard, and to assure all involved, beginning with our military personnel and including all other potential victims, of my prayers for their safety.
"And finally, I urge members of the Anglican Church of Canada to continue in their prayers for a just and peaceable outcome in this tense situation".
Michael G. Peers, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
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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
TORONTO (Feb. 10, 2003) -- The last of 30 dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada have now ratified an agreement with the federal government which caps the church's liability in residential schools litigation at $25-million.
Completing a process that began last November , the 30 dioceses have unanimously approved the agreement and unanimously agreed to contribute to the settlement fund it creates. Each diocese was required to sign on to the agreement before it could come into effect. At a series of special meetings and synods held since last December  all agreed to do so, many without a dissenting vote.
The last dioceses to vote were Fredericton and Calgary this past weekend. Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador had earlier approved the agreement in principle and confirmed the decision this weekend. Because of time zones, Calgary's officially became the final ratification vote.
The Canadian Anglican Church has also announced the formation of a separate corporation, called the Anglican Church of Canada Resolution Corp., which will administer the settlement fund under the terms of the agreement.
Under the agreement, 30 per cent of compensation will be paid from the settlement fund to former residential schools students who have proven claims of sexual or physical abuse. The remaining 70 per cent will be paid by the federal government.
If compensation for these claims eventually exceeds $25-million, the federal government will pay the rest, and should awards fall short of the amount, the money will be returned to the dioceses.
Canadian dioceses made individual decisions on how they would find the money to contribute their share to the settlement fund.
In the diocese of Toronto, for instance, Archbishop Terry Finlay asked each Anglican to contribute $100 in order to raise $5-million. Athabasca in Alberta is selling an archdeacon's residence to raise $125,000. Other dioceses dipped into reserves or decided to mount capital campaigns to cover both contributions to the settlement fund and other local projects.
Diocese were asked to contribute to the settlement fund according to a formula similar to the one used to determine their contributions to the national church.
In total, Canadian dioceses were called on to contribute $22-million and that goal has been met. General Synod, the national embodiment of the church, will make up the remaining $3-million.
The agreement was intended to move litigation over residential schools out of the courts and into a form of alternate dispute resolution. The large number of lawsuits was taking a long time in the legal system and the process was costing vast amounts of money, to the point where the General Synod of the Anglican Church was facing bankruptcy.
The details of a process to keep claims out of the courts (alternative dispute resolution) have yet to be finalized. Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod and the chief Anglican negotiator with the federal government, said at the time the agreement was announced on Nov. 20  that it would allow the church to use its resources to do what it does best -- minister to people who were harmed in the schools and work at healing and reconciliation -- rather than use them up in legal fees.
After this weekend's finalization of the ratification process, Archdeacon Boyles said that he was "very pleased with the way dioceses have responded so quickly and so positively to the agreement. It shows the strength of the Anglican family in Canada".
With the last of the ratification votes, the formal documents will now be sent to the dioceses for signing, Archdeacon Boyles explained. Once the documents have been signed by the dioceses, representatives of the Anglican Church and the Government of Canada will formally sign the official agreement.
A tentative date of March 11  has been set for the formal signing by Archbishop Michael Peers, the Anglican Primate, and federal Public Works Minister Ralph Goodale, in charge of residential schools resolution. The signing will likely take place at the Anglican national office in Toronto.
The Anglican church was involved, with the federal government, in operating 26 of 80 residential schools from the mid-19th century until the 1970s when the church ended its involvement. In 1993, Archbishop Peers formally apologized to native people for the church's involvement in the schools.
TORONTO, January 17, 1991 -- The leader of Canada's 2.4 million Anglicans has rejected the notion that war in the Gulf is justified. In a statement released today Archbishop Michael Peers expresses "deep regret" over the conflict and the loss of life, and extends support to the families of Canadian forces' members.
While condemning Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait as "unacceptable and contemptible," Archbishop Peers says the Gulf does not meet the six criteria traditionally used to test for a just war. For example, a just war is carried out "discriminately," to minimize harm to non-combatants. But, "the resort to high level aerial bombardment is a tactic designed to minimise military casualties," he notes, "not those of non-combatants."
Archbishop Peers calls upon Prime Minister Mulroney "to show leadership in creating a role for Canada in building a new world order, one which settles disputes through diplomatic, economic and political means without recourse to the brutalities of war."
The complete text of the statement is attached.
WORSHIP FINDS HOPE DESPITE "DREADFUL PEOPLE DOING DREADFUL THINGS"
Earlier today, Archbishop Peers addressed a group of worshippers jammed into the church office's small chapel for the regular Thursday Eucharist.
"We have confronting each other two armed forces: one of them, the only armed forces to have used chemical weapons in the last 75 years; the other, dominated by the only armed forces to have used nuclear weapons. That speaks to the immensity of the conflict."
Archbishop Peers noted that today's scripture reading was taken from the "lectionary", an ecumenical schedule of readings adopted years in advance. "We gather in the midst of this to listen to the word of God -- because `the first casualty when war comes is truth.' The words we listen to are arbitrarily chosen by the Lectionary; but they are great words: `we are that household [of God], if only we are fearless and keep our hope high.' Now that's truth."
But Archbishop Peers distinguished between hope and optimism, "Optimism that the war will be short could mean only that a lot of people will die quickly, rather than slowly. This is not a day for optimism. But it is a day for hope, knowing that God is the founder of all. And God's purposes are not thwarted, even by dreadful people doing dreadful things."
STATEMENT BY ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL PEERS
It is with deep regret that I find our nation is today at war. The event so many of us had hoped could be avoided is now upon us. I grieve and mourn the loss of innocent civilian life in the last 12 hours in the streets and homes of Iraqi cities. I extend my support to the families of Canadian forces' members waiting anxiously now for news of their loved one's safety.
I ask all Anglicans, and I join with Canadian church leaders in asking all Canadians, to pray fervently for a quick end to the fighting, for the resumption of diplomatic initiatives by both Iraqi and United Nations authorities, and for the containment of this conflict within its present limits.
It is beyond dispute that Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, in flagrant violation of international law and with its foul atrocities against the Kuwaiti people, is unacceptable and contemptible. Nevertheless, the decision of the Canadian government to commit our forces to war and the call today from Canadian politicians to close ranks and support the war effort is deeply problematic. There are issues here upon which religious leaders have a duty to comment.
The Christian religion has a tradition of the just war. Normally, there are six tests applied to a conflict to determine whether violence is morally justified. They are:
- last resort after all other attempts to resolve the conflict
- right authority in the initiation of hostility
- right cause in the purpose of war
- proportionality in the use of force
- discrimination in the application of force (ie. protection of non-combatants)
- reasonable prospect of success
The commitment of United Nations forces to war last night does not, in my view, meet these tests.
- Military force cannot be said to be the option of last resort. South Africa has been in violation of UN resolutions for 40 years, Israel for 23 years, yet in these cases sanctions and negotiations are still being pursued.
- While the commitment of United States, British, and French forces have received the approval of their respective legislative assemblies, the Canadian Parliament has not given approval to the use of Canadian forces in combat roles.
- There is widespread public debate about exactly what cause is being pursued in this conflict. Is the cause the liberation of Kuwait? If so, it may be just. But is it a further attempt by Western powers, in continuance of a long tradition, to dominate Middle Eastern affairs and to subjugate Arab nations by coercion? The industrialised world, including Canada, has supplied weapons of war to the entire region, including Iraq, for its own political and material benefit. In his speech last night, President Bush failed to mention the one word which this war seems to be about - "oil." If the cause which is being pursued is the preservation of western lifestyles, then this war is not just.
- It is too early to judge whether the force that is being used is commensurate with the force that is being opposed. Certainly, the elimination of Iraqi chemical and nuclear capability is to be welcomed - though this would need to be extended to other nations in the region and in the world as well. But if, in view of early signs of minimal air resistance, the strength of Iraqi forces should prove to have been seriously overestimated by UN commanders, this will be a further indication of a lack of moral justification for the attack.
- Similarly, we have no assurance that there has been protection of the lives of innocent Iraqi civilians. The resort to high-level aerial bombardment is a tactic designed to minimise military casualties not those of non-combatants. The first commitment given by President Bush last night was to the safety of American lives. The total neglect of any mention of the protection of civilians is reprehensible. If the first casualty of war is truth, the early military-controlled news releases of low levels of ground casualties are difficult to believe.
- A reasonable prospect of success exists only if one's understanding of success is limited to the battlefield. This conflict has the potential to ignite the entire region in unimaginable devastation, to pit the Muslim world against the West for decades to come, and to unleash waves of violent and racist extremism throughout the world, not least in our own country. We have opened Pandora's box once again.
I conclude that this war in the Persian Gulf does not meet the tests provided by Christian tradition for a morally justifiable engagement at this stage. The Prime Minister has commented that Canadian participation in combat roles in this conflict is both reasonable and moral. I reject his sentiments and his reasoning.
I call upon him to show leadership in creating a role for Canada in building a new world order, one which settles disputes through diplomatic, economic and political means without recourse to the brutalities of war.
I call upon all Canadians of good will to pursue all efforts to bring about peace and the cessation of this destruction.
The Most Reverend Michael G. Peers, Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church of Canada
For more information contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Communications, Anglican Church of Canada, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, 416-924-9192; The Rev. Michael Ingham, Principal Secretary, Anglican Church of Canada, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, 416-924-9192.
TORONTO (March 5, 2003) -- Representatives of the federal government and the Anglican Church of Canada will officially sign an agreement on residential schools lawsuits, reached last November, at the church's national office next Tuesday, March 11 .
The agreement, announced in Ottawa on Nov. 20, establishes a Settlement Fund to which the church will contribute $25-million and which will be used to compensate former students of residential schools with proven claims of sexual or physical abuse.
It will be formally signed 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Anglican Church's national office at 600 Jarvis Street in Toronto. It comes into effect on March 15 .
Before being signed, the agreement had to be ratified by each of the church's 30 dioceses. The dioceses also had to agree to commit a total of $22-million over the next five years to a settlement fund. General Synod, the Anglican Church's national organization, contributed $3-million.
The dioceses concluded the ratification process last month and the goal of $22-million in contributions was met, with most dioceses contributing a percentage of their budget similar to the amount given annually to General Synod. Although the agreement requires the dioceses to pay into the Settlement Fund in quarterly installments over the next five years, several dioceses have said they will pay the full amount immediately.
If compensation amounts to more than $25-million, the federal government will pay the rest. It is less, the extra money will be returned to the dioceses.
Signing on behalf of the church at Tuesday's ceremony will be Archbishop Michael Peers, the Anglican Primate, and federal Public Works Minister Ralph Goodale, whose portfolio includes responsibility for residential schools resolution.
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod and the chief Anglican negotiator during talks with the federal government, said the church wanted to have the signing at its national office so that General Synod staff who have worked under circumstances of extreme uncertainty for the past three years could attend and witness the signing.
Also attending the signing ceremony will be representatives of both the Anglican and government negotiating teams who worked for several years before an agreement was reached.
The Anglican Church was involved, with the federal government, in operating 26 residential schools from the mid-19th century until the 1970s. In 1993, Archbishop Peers formally apologized to native people for the church's involvement in the schools.
The Anglican Church was named in about 2,200 of more than 12,000 lawsuits launched against the federal government.
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Contact: For more information, please contact Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Acting Director of Communications, 416-924-9199 ext. 306; 416-540-3653 (Cell); email@example.com OR
Archdeacon Jim Boyles, General Secretary of General Synod, 416-924-9199 ext. 280; firstname.lastname@example.org
Excerpts from the address of the Most Rev. Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, at the opening service of the Diakonia '93 Congress on Evangelism 23 July 1993 held near Orillia, Ontario.