Prayer Vigil- June 9, 2019

Kitchener-Waterloo residents gathered at Kitchener City Hall Square to listen to Indigenous and faith community representatives speak about the urgent need for safe passage of Bill C-262, “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
   Bill C-262 is a private member’s Bill introduced in the House of Commons in April 2016 by MP Romeo Saganash (Abitibi – Baie-James – Nunavik – Eeyou).
   The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) identified the UN Declaration as “the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.”
   Bill C-262 was adopted by the House of Commons on May 30, 2018 and was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on May 16 after two readings. Support for the Bill has been undermined since then as five Senators -- Dennis Patterson, Scott Tannas, Norman Doyle, Victor Oh, and Don Plett -- have introduced amendments that may kill the Bill.
   Speakers at Sunday’s public vigil represented Christian, Muslim, and Indigenous communities. Each spoke to the critical and timely need to respect Indigenous rights in Canadian law according to the Declaration. Speakers emphasized that Bill C-262 does not create new rights.
As more than 100 law experts stated last month: “It (Bill C-262) establishes a process for government, in full partnership with Indigenous peoples, to achieve implementation of the Declaration in Canadian law.”
   Furthermore, “…the UN Declaration offers a framework to enhance harmonious and cooperative relations between the State and Indigenous peoples, ‘in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith.’ These are the core principles and values of not only Canada’s Constitution, but also the international system that Canada has championed.”
Advocates of Bill C-262 fear the demise of the Bill in the Senate Standing Committee and the looming summer recess in Parliament after June 21. It is feared that the demise of the Bill would significantly set back the work of reconciliation in Canada.

Sunday’s local speakers included:

Chief Myeengun Henry, Chief of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation
Lori Campbell, Director of Shatitsirotha, Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre
Pastor David Malina, Christ Lutheran Church
Marilyn Malton, Director, Renison Institute of Ministry
Fran Pappert-Shannon, K-W El-Tawhid Juma Circle Unity Mosque
Henriette Thompson, Anglican Church and KAIROS Indigenous Rights Circle member
Dr. Scott Morton-Ninomiya, St. Jacob’s Mennonite Church
Kandace Boos, Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, Indigenous Neighbours Coordinator

For more information, please contact: Henriette Thompson