The Women’s March on Washington will take place the day after President-elect, Donald Trump, is sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America. People in the United States, but also here in Canada, are worried about what this presidency will mean for hard-won human rights in North America.
On Saturday, January 21st, thousands will march on Washington, DC, in solidarity with all those who are afraid that these rights will be chipped away or reversed under the Trump administration.
If you would like to show your solidarity with women, Muslims, immigrants, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people, there are local marches in which you can participate.
These are the marches taking place across our Synod; all are on Saturday, January 21, 2017:
- Halifax, beginning at City Hall at 1pm
- Fredericton, beginning at City Hall at 1pm
- Montreal, beginning at Esplanade de la Place des Arts at 11am
- Kingston, beginning at Springer Market Square at 10am
- Ottawa, beginning at the Human Rights Monument at 11am
- Toronto, beginning at Queen’s Park at 12pm
- Hamilton, beginning at City Hall at 12pm
- St. Catharines, beginning at City Hall at 10am
- London, beginning at Victoria Park at 12pm
For more information please see http://canadianwomenmarch.ca/local-marches/continue reading
Government of Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Kevin Flynn, has promised to table legislative changes in the spring and is conducting a “Changing Workplace Review” (see www.labour.gov.on.ca for more information).
Organizations, such as $15andFairness, have been pressing the government to help protect workers with legislation that ensures better working conditions and wages with a $15 minimum wage increase, paid sick days, and easier access to unionization.
“Non-standard employment (which includes involuntary part-time, temporary, self-employment without help and multiple job holders) has grown twice as fast as standard employment since 1997” (www.labour.gov.on.ca). We know this reality has a huge impact on poverty in Canada, on families, and on communities, as Canadians struggle to find fair work and make ends meet. A poll done back in September 2016 by Canadian Payroll Association, concluded that 48 % of working Canadians rely on each paycheque to cover their bills, living paycheque to paycheque, as personal debt mounts and as the economy remains weak (Globe and Mail, September 7, 2016).
Faith leaders have signed a statement calling on the government of Ontario to make effective changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act, 1995, and the Employment Standards Act, 2000, to better protect workers, families and communities. “We know that decent working conditions are essential to strong and prosperous communities…” (http://15andfairness.org/faith-leaders/).
Please visit $15andFairness (www.15andfairness.org) and see how you can add your support for fair wages and decent work.continue reading
The Treaties Recognition Week Work Group offered learning opportunities for Treaties Recognition Week in Ontario, which took place November 6-12, 2016.
Rev. Peter Mogk extends these words and resources available for our use as we continue to work toward reconciliation and Treaties Recognition Week in 2017:
The province of Ontario proclaimed on 30 May 2016 that the first complete week of the month of November annually will be recognized as Treaties Recognition Week. https://news.ontario.ca/mirr/en/2016/05/ontario-proclaims-first-week-of-november-treaties-recognition-week.html
A small group of Lutherans (Bay Area Ministry Group) and Anglicans (Dioceses of Huron and Niagara) in the Brantford area came together around this proclamation to invite the surrounding population into the recognition. The Treaties Recognition Week Work Group (firstname.lastname@example.org) presented four learning opportunities for the surrounding population.
- Seven daily readings were prepared by Peter Mogk and made available to interested persons; https://www.facebook.com/Faith-Evangelical-Lutheran-Church-496247673736215/. The Group was encouraged by the local MPP and MP, who both welcomed the readings and committed to sharing them with their political colleagues in Toronto and Ottawa.
- The public was invited to view Alanis Obamsawin’s Trick or Treaty? This excellent documentary movie provides potent insights into the nature and challenges of treaty recognition as well as the cost of disregard.
- The wonderful learning power of the Blanket Exercise was made available at St. Mark’s Anglican to explore the history of relationships and legislative actions with our Indigenous host peoples.
- People gathered from Port Dover to Cambridge and Hamilton to Ingersoll at the Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford. This centre is located on the territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River immediately adjacent to the Mohawk Institute, which was the first residential school in Canada.
Resources were offered for continuing education, such as, Strength for the Climbing: Steps on the Journey of Reconciliation (www.kairoscanada.org), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, They Came For the Children and Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (www.trc.ca), Steve Heinrichs’ Paths for Peacemaking with Host Peoples, and Nathan Tidridge’s The Queen at the Council Fire: The Treaty of Niagara, Reconciliation, and the Dignified Crown in Canada.
Nathan Tidridge, an author and awarded teacher, shared part of his treaties recognition experience under the title “…to do justice – our relationship with Indigenous peoples…” A reporter from the Brant News nicely captured the essence of this presentation, which highlighted treaties as relationships of documented kinship; very much in the biblical vein of “covenants.” http://www.brantnews.com/news-story/6965285-treaties-should-be-a-love-relationship-tidridge/ The local MPP and MP have extended their commitment to reconciliation and treaty relationships by distributing to colleagues this newspaper report on the essence of treaties.
Phil Monture, land claims specialist for the Six Nations of the Grand River, acquainted the audience with “The Land Beneath our Feet” which took a brief look at the history of lands in the Haldimand Tract. He also offered copies of related documentation, which can be viewed at: https://www.dropbox.com/s/oqfkbik9yhs9a5y/Land%20Rights%20A%20Global%20Solution.pdf?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/1krevcksijv10kz/UN%20X%20-%20Six%20Nations%20of%20the%20Grand%20River.pdf?dl=0, https://www.dropbox.com/s/oqfkbik9yhw9a5y/Land%20Rights%20A%20Global%20Solution.pdf?dl=0, and https://dropbox.com/s/8jlvb4owljxk6eq/Six%20Nations%20of%20%20the%20Grand.pdf?dl=0.
Following these two introductions to the realm of treaty relationships, participants gathered in a sharing circle and prayer in Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawk.
The Treaties Recognition Week Work Group is looking ahead to the possibilities for Treaties Recognition Week, 5-11 November 2017. Additional information on Treaties Recognition Week is accessible at https://www.ontario.ca/page/treaties
The Paris Climate Agreement comes into effect today, November 4, 2016. Signed by 195 countries, it is ambitious in its targets and scope. Some of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters have signed on: India, China, the United States, the European Union, with Canada among them. Russia and Japan said they too will ratify the Agreement in the months ahead.
Starting this Monday, November 7th, global leaders prepare to meet for COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco. Now that the Agreement has come into force, leaders will be looking at ways of implementing the Agreement in their countries, will work on developing procedures and processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will put in place regular reviews to see how well, or not so well, nations are keeping up with the Agreement.
The goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions drastically to stop the planet from warming an additional 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That means, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to be cut by an estimated 40-70% by 2050, and by 2100 the planet must be carbon neutral. The only way this is achievable is by phasing out the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and placing our resources, both political and financial, on renewable, sustainable energy sources.
A lot of work needs to be done and a lot of political goodwill needs to happen at the individual, local, provincial, territorial, federal and international levels. However, Erik Solheim, head of the United Nations Environment, says this about today, “It’s an historic day for so many reasons. It shows the shift to a greener world is irreversible. It shows we’re able to set aside differences to tackle common problems with consensus. It shows the world is swayed by good science and solid evidence.”
At our Assembly this past June, we recommitted as the Eastern Synod to climate justice with a resolution on the environment. “As followers of Christ, called to care for creation (Genesis 2:15), which the Creator pronounced ‘good’ (Genesis 1), we… invite the Synod’s congregations and each of their members to commit themselves anew to such care and to eco-friendly practices, according to their local circumstances.”
The rest of the resolution we passed outlines in very good detail the steps we can take in our congregations, and as individual members of congregations, in doing our part and our work for God’s good creation.
 Al Jazeera, Tarek Bazley, November 4, 2016
 CBC News, Thomson Reuters, November 4, 2016continue reading
Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the TRC, said “education got us here, education is what will get us out.”
We, as settler peoples, are urged to un-learn and re-learn. We are to learn of the legacy of the residential schools; their present-day impacts on First Nations peoples and communities. We are to learn of the contributions of First Nations peoples to this country, both past and present.
There are things YOU can do, as individuals and congregations. You can download and circulate the petition for your province or territory, calling for implementation of TRC recommendation #62. You can send an electronic letter to your MPP or MLA. You can read the report card to see how close each province or territory is to making changes to their education curriculum. You can host a workshop or event to participate in the Winds of Change Campaign. You can participate in mass blanket exercises across the country in June 2016.
Please visit KAIROS Canada’s website by clicking here for more detailed information on ways to participate in this important step in reconciliation.continue reading
2015 Election Bulletin: Exercising Faithful Citizenship is a bulletin published by Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ). CPJ “encourages citizens, leaders in society, and governments to support policies and practices which reflect God’s call for love, justice, and the flourishing of creation.” (2015 Election Bulletin p. 12)continue reading
This bulletin is a great tool for gathering information about the issues affecting all Canadians as we participate in our federal election on October 19th, 2015.
As faithful citizens, we are called by God’s love in Christ toward a just society, where concerns such as poverty, housing and homelessness, the climate, right relations with First Nations peoples, the economy, and welcoming the newcomer are all a part of the debate and where, together, we are able to find lasting solutions and policies that reflect the care of neighbour and creation.
Use this bulletin as a resource in your congregation, ministry area, or as an individual. Click and follow the link at http://www.cpj.ca/election2015. You can also follow CPJ on Facebook.com/citizensforpublicjustice or follow on twitter.com/publicjustice for more information.
Following on the heels of the Justice Tour 2015 on Climate Change and Poverty (with the Canadian Council of Churches and Citizens for Public Justice) comes this event:
March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate (with 350.org) on July 5, 2015 in Toronto
Canadians will make their way to Toronto to make their presence known and their voices heard that there is growing support in Canada for strong climate action. The conversation need not break down into the economy versus the climate; the conversation needs to be about both – the economy and the climate.
Look for more details to come here on this blog or you can visit www.350.org
You can also follow me on twitter @kmaltenburg
Truth and Reconciliation. Two words of courage. Two words of hope.
For the past five years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, has pursued its mandate to inform Canadians what happened in the residential schools and their long-term effects on generations of First Nations peoples. The TRC has crossed the country hearing stories, listening attentively, collecting information, and hearing truth, in the hope that reconciliation is possible between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Truth must come first. Chaired by Justice Murray Sinclair, the commission began by listening to the stories of residential school survivors. These schools, run by both the church and the federal government, had the sole purpose to “civilize” the Indigenous child and to destroy a culture deemed inferior by the colonizing culture. At the best of it, the residential schools were supposed to house and feed children and give them an education in skills and trades so that they could support themselves and their families. At the very worst, these schools ripped children away from their homes, parents, roots, language and culture, where they suffered under loneliness, abuse, neglect, and death.
The last of the residential schools closed in the 1990’s. That means this is very recent history, not some history long ago or long forgotten. The consequences of this history live on in memories, in bodies, in souls, in the land.
Truths were spoken; hard truths. It took tremendous courage to speak them, it takes willingness and an open heart to hear them. But truth, as we know, is absolutely vital for healing. As Canadians, and as the church, we are called to bear witness to these things.
Second, hopefully, comes reconciliation. At our national assembly in 2011, we committed ourselves as a church to learning, walking with, and helping foster right relationship with Indigenous peoples. It is our mission as ELCIC congregations to learn what we do not know, to combat racist attitudes within ourselves and outside ourselves, and, if possible, to walk with our sisters and brothers of the First Nations.
To learn more, you can go on the Truth and Reconciliation Canada website and hear or read of previous events and learnings (www.trc.ca). KAIROS Canada (www.kairoscanada.org) also has a lot of information and it has a schedule of events and registration information for events coming up at the end of May, beginning of June, in Ottawa for the celebrations around the final report from the TRC.
Truth and reconciliation. Courage and hope. These are words we know intimately as followers of Christ. Let us walk together as Christians, as Canadians, and as First Nations peoples toward the healing of the generations.
Rev. Katherine Altenburg, Director of Public Policy and Service Ministriescontinue reading