We Are Beginning To See the Light
“In Canada, the work for right relations with indigenous peoples has exposed how Christian doctrine has been abused to suppress others, even taking land and culture. We have, as the WCC, learned a lot over the last decades, nationally and internationally, from indigenous communities through the very difficult processes of truth, reconciliation and justice. We addressed the Doctrine of Discovery last year, repudiating the use of this doctrine to justify non-indigenous claims to sovereignty and domination. Miraculously, in spite of this legacy, the local churches of the First Nations peoples are growing in number and spiritual strength; I have myself been enriched and inspired by encounters with them.”
These words are from the report to the Assembly by the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. There is a generosity in naming Canada and in publicly recognizing the steps we have taken as church and as Indigenous communities to uncover truth and to work towards right relation.
In the few short days we have been here I have seen Canadian delegates bring forward their experiences in truth and reconciliation with humility and as learning to be shared with the global ecumenical movement. In the hallways, I have heard us talk of our collective failures, what we refused to see, and what we did wrong in trying to make things right. At the microphones, I have heard us speak about the challenges yet to be faced; far too many missing and murdered Indigenous women and an unchecked extractive industry that continues to deeply impact Indigenous life and livelihood in Canada and in the global South. I have also heard us acknowledge where we are beginning to see light, to experience grace, the steps we are taking together – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – in a new covenant.
We have a story on our heart that I hear us telling in the hope that others will tell their own stories of truth, reconciliation and justice, and in the hope we will be moved to join in a common struggle for Indigenous rights. Shared stories, learning from one another, common struggle – this is precisely what a global ecumenical movement is about.