"If, however, the watchman sees the enemy coming and does not sound the alarm, the enemy will come and kill those sinners, but I will hold the watchmen responsible for their death." (Ezekiel 33:6)
On March 10th , after prayerful consideration, we, as members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, met with Archbishop Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, to urge him not to sign the Settlement Agreement between the Anglican Church and the Government of Canada until changes were made to prevent re-victimization of survivors and promote true healing and restoration.
At our meeting from March 6 to 9th, 2003, we reviewed the Settlement Agreement for the first time as a Council. We shared in the Circle our fears and pain concerning the contents of the Agreement and its implications for Indigenous peoples. In essence, we fear that the Agreement and its related documents will have damaging effects upon survivors and their descendants.
We oppose the requirement of survivors to waive all future claims for loss of language and culture in order to gain a settlement for physical and sexual abuse -- a requirement which we understand to be an extinguishment of our Aboriginal rights to our languages, cultures, and traditions. We are appalled by the torturous nature of the Alternative Dispute Resolution process that is currently being drafted by the Federal government, in consultation with the Anglican Church, and fear that such a process will further violate survivors while offering most of them very little compensation in return.
We believe that the effects of the Agreement and its related documents have not been widely discussed or understood in the wider Church due to the lack of meaningful consultation with ACIP [Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples], as well as the rushed timeframe of discussions within the dioceses and their overwhelming focus on the financial aspects of the Agreement.
All of these concerns we have expressed to the Primate, as well as to other leaders of the National church. We are deeply saddened by the fact that these concerns have not been deemed sufficient to warrant a delay in the signing of the Agreement.
In 1994, representatives of our people signed a Covenant in which we agreed to call our people into unity in a new, self-determining community within the Anglican Church of Canada. At that time, we extended the hand of partnership to all those of the broader church who would help us build a truly Anglican Indigenous Church in Canada. In 1995, the General Synod of the Anglican Church accepted that extended hand and pledged to walk in partnership with us.
It is with heavy hearts that we declare that neither the content of the Settlement Agreement itself nor the process by which it has been negotiated reflects that covenant of partnership. Our responsibility now, as representatives of Indigenous Anglicans from across the country, is to inform our people of the pitfalls of the Agreement, and to warn them of the dangers of the Alternative Dispute Resolution process.
As the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, we want to declare that on March 11th , when the Settlement Agreement is signed and made official by the Primate on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada, he will not be doing so in our name.
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Contact: Andrew Wesley, ACIP Co-chair 416-922-3871 or 416-504-9416; Todd Russell, ACIP Co-chair 709-896-1377 or 709-896-0592; Maria Jane Highway, ACIP Member 205-627-0015 or 205-623-3311