Resolution 2013.01 Building Relationships and Partnerships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

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Submitted by New Brunswick Provincial Council

Whereas, In January 2013, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in a letter to the federal government and the Assembly of First Nations that this was a special moment for Canada and the church in renewing and deepening the relationship and partnership with indigenous peoples ­-- First Nations, Inuit and Métis; therefore, be it

Resolved, That national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 93rd annual national convention assembled, urge the current national executive to:

  • Build relationships with indigenous women leaders
  • Identify ideas and programs for members through the national standing committees on building or deepening relationships and partnerships with the indigenous peoples of Canada; and be it further

Resolved, That national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 93rd annual national convention assembled, encourage all members to reach out to indigenous peoples in their communities.

BRIEF: Building Relationships and Partnerships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

In a letter addressed to the federal government and the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, prior to their January 11, 2013 meeting, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Catholic church has worked alongside indigenous peoples since the very beginnings of the country. Over the past 20 years, the nation and the church have witnessed and participated in many positive changes in the situations facing indigenous peoples. For Catholics, he said, “the canonization this past October of Kateri Tekakwitha, was a special moment for Canada and the church and it is an opportunity to renew and deepen the relationship and partnership with indigenous peoples – First Nations, Inuit and Metis” (Letter of CCCB). Approximately 25 per cent of all indigenous peoples in Canada identify themselves as Catholic and they are found in every diocese across the country (www.cccb.ca, “The Catholic Church in Canada and Indigenous Peoples”).

The Catholic Women’s League of Canada is in a good position to embrace this opportunity and to build or renew relationships and partnerships with indigenous peoples because the League has members all across Canada. The League is composed of over 91,000 members located in 1,271 parish councils in each of the 10 provinces and the territories, as well as on military bases across Canada (Annual Report 2012). Many are located in close proximity to communities of indigenous peoples.

Since 1951, the League has indicated its support for indigenous peoples with nine resolutions under the community life standing committee (www.cwl.ca “resolutions”). At the 2012 annual national convention, a letter was sent to the prime minister to express concern over the current state of living conditions in First Nations’ communities (Letter to Prime Minister, 15 August 2012).

The League’s mission statement and the objects of the League identify all those areas where members are called to serve the people of God.
In light of the recent canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first indigenous woman from North America to be recognized as a Catholic saint, the time is right for members of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada to build or deepen their relationships and partnerships with Canada’s indigenous peoples. The national executive can provide leadership in this endeavour by:

  • building relationships with indigenous women leaders
  • providing ideas and programs under the various national standing committees for members to use.

WORKS CITED:
Letter of CCCB President to Prime Minister, 9 January 2013 <http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/media-room/statements-a-letters/3502-cccb-president-writes-to-the-prime-minister-of-canada-and-the-national-chief-of-the-assembly-of-first-nations>
The Catholic Church in Canada and Indigenous Peoples <http://www.cccb.ca/site/eng/church-in-canada-and-world/catholic-church-in-canada/indigenous-peoples>
The Catholic Women’s League of Canada Annual Report- membership statistics
Community Life Resolutions relating to indigenous people <https://www.cwl.ca/resolutions/committee.html#CL-resolutions>
1991.06 > Support for Aboriginal Peoples
1988.16 > Rights of Aboriginal Peoples
1980.09 > Native Peoples
1974.18 > Indian Culture in School Texts
1967.05 > Indian and Metis Community Development
1963.09 > Indian Claims Commission
1960.05 > Hostel for Indian Men and Women
1953.06 > Indian Senators
1951.08 > Canadian Indians
CWL Letter to Prime Minister expressing concern over the current state of living conditions in First Nations communities, August 15, 2012 <https://www.cwl.ca/recentcorrespondence/20120815%20Letter%20to%20pm%20re%20first%20nations.pdf

ACTION PLAN:

  • Invite a speaker from an indigenous community to council meetings.
  • Celebrate National Aboriginal Day on June 21st.
  • Celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha on April 17th.
  • Invite indigenous peoples in your area to partner in a prayer service followed by a social where everyone shares their cultural foods, music, dance and common ground.