June 4, 2021
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada National Bishop Susan Johnson writes to the church to ask members to lend their voice to support Bill C-15, an Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The text of the letter follows.
June 4, 2021
Dear friends in faith and siblings in humanity,
Today, I joined with other ecumenical leaders in sending a letter to Senator Marc Gold, Leader of the Government in the Senate, expressing support for Bill C-15, an Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I invite you to also express your support for Bill C-15.
Bill C-15 is a critical step toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Call to Action #48 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission counseled all faith groups in Canada to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms and standards of the Declaration as a framework for reconciliation. In this spirit, our support for Bill C-15 is an expression of our commitment to reconciliation with humility. It is part of wider efforts by faith communities to decolonize our minds and hearts, work against racism, and develop just relationships.
The bill has passed in the House of Commons and now needs to be endorsed in the Senate. A previous version of this bill died when an election was called. It is critical that the Senate do its duty in supporting Indigenous rights now.
Working with our ecumenical partners through Faith in the Declaration, you can take action:
- Write an email to Senator Dan Christmas, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, to show your support for Bill C-15.
- Write to your Member of Parliament (MP) expressing your support for Bill C-15. While the Bill has passed the House of Commons, it is fair to remind elected officials that passing the bill into law is a matter of accountability.
- Ask your congregation to sign up as a Supporter of UN Declaration Legislation.
- Templates for sending letters are available at: elcic.ca/CompassionateJustice/IndigenousRightsandRelationships.cfm
In 2011, the ELCIC made a commitment to promote right and renewed relationships between non-indigenous and Indigenous Peoples within Canada. In 2015, the ELCIC repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. We committed ourselves to seek greater understanding of the issues facing Indigenous peoples, and to walk with Indigenous peoples in their ongoing efforts to exercise their inherent sovereignty and fundamental human rights.
The discovery last week of the remains of children buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School is a painful reminder the consequences of violating people’s rights and dignity. Working for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples involves both urgent action and long-term commitment. Bill C-15 is a critical step toward reconciliation; there will be many more steps. I pray God will bless the church with compassion, courage and wisdom as we make this journey.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Susan C. Johnson
National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada