Indigenous Relations

We respectfully and gratefully acknowledge that we gather on the unceded, traditional, and ancestral lands of Indigenous First Nations.

The Mennonite Church BC Indigenous Relations Task Group is committed to creating redemptive relationships between settler Mennonites and their Indigenous neighbours. 

Reconciliation as a core value is the work that God is doing in Christ and that we are called to do both individually and collectively as Jesus-followers. The call prompts us to embrace the practice of redemptive listening, learning, and advocacy in the interests of reconciliation between settler and Indigenous peoples.  Reconciliation as the core value guides our actions and holds us accountable.

By listening with respect, appreciation and an open mind we let the Word and Indigenous experience guide our actions towards a fuller understanding of Indigenous dignity, cultural and spiritual experience.

By learning we embrace justice through an acceptance of Mennonite complicity in the Canadian colonial project, the legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery and the challenge to the churches of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations and the implementation of United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People.

By engaging in advocacy we embrace the hope of reconciliation as we repudiate  settler privilege to free us to be creative, focused and dependable as allies in the Indigenous struggle for rights, justice and dignity.

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Ally Bill of Responsibility
by Dr. Lynn Gehl
(Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe)

1. Do not act out of guilt, but rather out of a genuine interest in challenging the larger oppressive power structures; 

2. Understand that they are secondary to the Indigenous people that they are working with and that they seek to serve. They and their needs must take a 
back seat; 

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White Privilege

Barbara Applebaum in White Privilege/White Complicity: Connecting “Benefiting From” to “Contributing To”  (Philosophy of Education, 2008 pp. 292-300) outlines the manifestation of white privilege and a constructive response to the acknowledgement of white complicity in the perpetuation of systemic racism in society.  Applebaum concludes that whites are not fully aware of the extent to which race matters or how this relates to buttressing their status. She further outlines how this racial blindness sustains systemic oppression and privilege by rewarding the dominant group for their “willful ignorance.”  These socially normalized habits of inattention gives the privileged members in society the licence to ignore their complicity in maintaining systemic racism, while retaining a positive image of themselves.

Applebaum provides several guidelines for the white majority desiring to engage in authentic alliances with racial minorities to challenging the injustice legitimized by white privilege. 

  1. Important to confronting systemic racism is acknowledging rather than denying the uncomfortable reality of white complicity in the maintenance of racial oppression.  The adage, “The truth will set you free but first you will find it disturbing” applies here.
  2. Know that the discomfort of admitting to white complicity in racial oppression has the potential for creating genuine alliances to enact fundamental social change.
  3. Challenge expressions of white privilege that obstruct a genuine relationship with those who are the actual victims of racial oppression.
  4. Ensure that the desire to become an ally to racial minorities focuses on the victims of stigma and oppression rather than serving personal ego needs that protect the repressive social system on which white privilege is based.
  5. The condition for developing a common language for meaningful dialogue requires openness and vulnerability while listening to the voices of racial minorities.
  6. It is important to create alliances that together challenge and undermine the unjust system white privilege is currently deeply embedded in.

For persons on this enlightened journey of listening, learning and advocating, Applebaum provides the foundational principles for birthing a society that celebrates diversity and inclusiveness. 

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From Anabaptist World

Supporting Indigenous people, network seeks to repair injustices
In spirit of Jubilee, members address harms stemming from Doctrine of Discovery


Mennonites have formed a network to support reparative actions with Indigenous people. The Repair Congregations and Communities Network is a new initiative of the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition. The network launched during the coalition’s virtual annual meeting Aug. 13-15. Eighteen congregations and communities have joined the network, which offers resourcing, accountability and cross-pollination opportunities for Mennonite communities.

“Jesus calls us to Jubilee justice: release for those enslaved, return of ancestral lands, Sabbath rest for all,” said coalition coordinator Katerina Friesen. “Christian European domination of Indigenous lands resulted in structural violence and deep ruptures with Earth, God and our neighbor that continue today. As church communities and members of the Repair Network, we want to seek ways of repair in the spirit of Jubilee.”

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21 things you may not know about the Indian Act
by Bob Joseph

  1. Denied women status
  2. Introduced residential schools
  3. Created reserves
  4. Renamed individuals with European names
  5. Restricted First Nations from leaving reserve without permission from Indian agent
  6. Enforced enfranchisement of any First Nation admitted to university
  7. Could expropriate portions of reserves for roads, railways and other public works, as well as move an entire reserve away from a municipality if it was deemed expedient
  8. Could lease out uncultivated reserve lands to non-First Nations if the new leaseholder would use it for farming or pasture
  9. Forbade First Nations from forming political organizations
  10. Prohibited anyone, First Nation or non-First Nation, from soliciting funds for First Nation legal claims without special license from the Superintendent General (this 1927 amendment granted the government control over the ability of First Nations to pursue land claims)
  11. Prohibited the sale of alcohol to First Nations
  12. Prohibited sale of ammunition to First Nations
  13. Prohibited pool hall owners from allowing First Nations entrance
  14. Imposed the "band council" system
  15. Forbade First Nations from speaking their native language
  16. Forbade First Nations from practicing their traditional religion
  17. Forbade western First Nations from appearing in any public dance, show, exhibition, stampede or pageant wearing traditional regalia
  18. Declared potlatch and other cultural ceremonies illegal
  19. Denied First Nations the right to vote
  20. Created permit system to control First Nations ability to sell products from farms
  21. Created under the British rule for the purpose of subjugating one race —  Aboriginal Peoples

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Ecumenical Letter of Solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders
November 5, 2021

As representatives of an ecumenical community committed to the principles of reconciliation set forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we write to register our solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en peoples who are defending their lands in opposition to the Coastal GasLink Pipeline. This pipeline violates the fundamental right of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Nations; it violates the Wet'suwet'en nation’s right to “maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned… lands, territories, waters… and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities for future generations in this regard.”

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A Response to the Coastal GasLink and Trans Mountain Pipeline Projects from the Mennonite Church of British Columbia Indigenous Relations Task Group
October 5, 2021

We, the members of the Mennonite Church B.C. (MCBC) Indigenous Relations Task Group, wish to register our opposition to the Government’s support for the Coastal GasLink Pipeline (bringing fracked gas from the Peace River to Kitimat, B.C.) and the Trans Mountain Pipeline (bringing bitumen from the tar sands in Alberta to tidewater in Burnaby, B.C.). These pipelines violate the fundamental right of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Nations and contribute to escalating climate change.

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What is the purpose of a land acknowledgement and who is the land acknowledgement for?

To create a safe space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to share. In a way, a land acknowledgement is an expression of friendship based on honesty, respect, grace, and trust.

The land acknowledgement is therefore for both the Indigenous peoples and the settlers. In doing a land acknowledgement, you are committing to respecting and honouring the land and its history; those who lived there before you, and the One who created it. This commitment is a commitment to work as a community to fulfill the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action. This commitment is another step in doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly (Micah 6:8).

Read more on why land acknowledgements are important:

Local Love    Native Land

How to make a land acknowledgement? (the following guide is from Native Governance Center)

  1. Start with self-reflection. Are you/your community ready for this commitment? Why are you considering a land acknowledgement?
  2. Invest time in researching:
    • the Indigenous people to whom the land belongs,
    • the history of the land and related treaties (if applicable),
    • Indigenous place names and language (correct spelling and pronunciation),
    • Indigenous people living in your community; highlight Indigenous people currently working in your area of ministry/study/employment.
  3. Be honest and pay attention to wording.
    • Don’t sugarcoat the past: use terms like “genocide, ethnic cleansing, stolen land, and forced removal, etc.” to reflect actions taken by colonizers.
    • Use past, present, and future tenses to acknowledge that Indigenous peoples are still here and thriving.
  4. How does the land acknowledgement sound? Allow it to be empowering and celebratory for Indigenous communities. Be creative. All friendships are unique and so express your friendship authentically.
  5. Other things to consider,
    • Please don’t ask an Indigenous person to deliver a “welcome” statement for your organization. You can read more as to why from the resource link above.
    • Actually build authentic relationships with Indigenous peoples.
    • See what compensations can be made and how you can support each other’s communities according to their own defining needs.

When to share a land acknowledgement? Where to place the land acknowledgement?

Once you have crafted a land acknowledgement, reveal it at a date and time when the most people are able to see and hear it. Hopefully, it will inspire more communities to work together in truth and reconciliation. Prominently display and publicly use the land acknowledgement so that it can provide conversation starters within the community and provide a safe space for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Tips, Resources, and Examples:

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