For thousands of years, First Nations people have walked on this land; their relationship with the land is at the centre of their lives and spirituality. We are gathered on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe (Ah-nish-naah-bay) First Nations – part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit – and acknowledge their stewardship of this land throughout the ages. May we strive to be the stewards whom God calls us to be and whom Mother Earth needs us to be.
Statement from the Moderator of the United Church of Canada regarding Residential School Burial Sites
Legacy Indigenous Peoples Projects
Our support of Indigenous Peoples began in 2016 with our church Book Club where we read Up Ghost River, by Edmund Metatawabin. Edmund Metatawabin is a former First Nations Chief of Fort Albany on the James Bay coast in Northern Ontario and a survivor of the residential school system. In Up Ghost River he details his life in a loving family, his experience in the residential school system, the importance of native teachings, the land and much more.
The group was so moved by his story that funds were collected and donated to purchase and send multiple shipments of fresh fruit (extremely expensive to purchase locally in isolated northern communities) to Early Years child care centres in First Nations communities along the James Bay coast and in areas close to the northern Manitoba/Ontario border.
We have also supported the Fort Albany Market / Good Food Boxes which started over 10 years ago as an off-shoot of the Student Nutrition Program. Since the community and the community members were not able to afford to buy healthy foods for their families, they decided to organize produce markets to help with the food insecurity.
A market is routinely held where fresh fruits & vegetables are available for sale at a significant discount from what can be purchased locally.
We have organized a snowsuit drive for First Nations Children that enabled them to play outside.
The church has organized an annual Document Shredding fundraising event where funds have been donated towards supporting our Indigenous Peoples Projects.
Remembering the 215 Children from the Kamloops Residential School
As news came on May 28, 2021, Canadians entered into a time of mourning for their relatives, their families, and their communities. Gatherings were held around sacred fires across the country. Prayers were sung and spoken. Shoes were laid out on the steps of churches and government buildings. Flags were flown at half-mast from May 31 – June 8, 2021 (215 hours) in remembrance of the 215 children found buried at Kamloops Indian Residential School.
The Healing Fund supports healing initiatives for survivors of the residential school system and its ongoing intergenerational impacts. Support for the Healing Fund is movement towards living out the United Church’s Apology to Indigenous Peoples (1986) and the Apology to Former Students of United Church Indian Residential Schools and to their Families and Communities (1998).
The Outreach Committee made a donation of $215 to The Healing Fund. Thanks to everyone who also has contributed– over $1000 raised and donated.
Opportunities for Personal Reconciliation
National Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Reads Campaign
Each year, Canada marks National Indigenous History Month with the Indigenous Reads Campaign. Works by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis authors broaden our understanding of Indigenous issues, cultures, and history and are a form of recognition, celebration, and reconciliation. As we walk the path of reconciliation, we must listen, learn, and be guided by the voices of Indigenous peoples.
Six Nations Polytechnic College
We are currently in discussions with Six Nations Polytechnic College on how we can support their Heritage Language Programs.
We are also in discussions with them about how they could help Grace better understand and explore Indigenous Peoples’ history and culture. If anyone has any ideas on what they would like to see, please let us know.
Whale Cove Community
Each year, St Raphael Catholic Church ships containers of supplies supporting the Indigenous Community of Whale Cove, Nunavut, a community of just over 400 people located on the western shore of Hudson’s Bay above the treeline.
Each summer, we collect 3 items of food until the end of August.
Starting in June, every Friday during Food for Life (8:30 am-10:30 am) your donations can be dropped off at Grace United Church. There will be labeled bins available away from the Food for Life activity.
Indigenous Canada Course
If you are interested in learning more about Indigenous histories and contemporary issues, the University of Alberta offers a free 12-week/lesson course that you can work through at your own pace.
From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions. https://www.coursera.org/learn/indigenous-canada
Indigenous Authors Library
We have an Indigenous Peoples library at Grace so everyone has the chance to borrow a book and learn more! Any donations of both adult and children’s books would be appreciated!