When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission completed its mandate in June 2015, it issued 94 Calls to Action. Action #48 (see below), calls church, faith and inter-faith groups to issue a statement as to their implementation of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by March 31, 2016.
On March 30, an ecumenical response to this Call to Action was issued by a group of churches, including The Salvation Army. Below is the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s brief summary statement, which refers to a more comprehensive plan (currently in development) of implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People as a framework for reconciliation.
“As Christ has called us to be ministers of reconciliation in this world, we recognize our responsibility in engaging the principles of this declaration,” says Major Shari Russell, territorial Aboriginal ministries consultant.
Call to Action #48:
“48. We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement, and all other faith groups and interfaith social justice groups in Canada who have not already done so, to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms, and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation. This would include, but not be limited to, the following commitments:
- Ensuring that their institutions, policies, programs, and practices comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Respecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination in spiritual matters, including the right to practise, develop, and teach their own spiritual and religious traditions, customs, and ceremonies, consistent with Article 12:1 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Engaging in ongoing public dialogue and actions to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Issuing a statement no later than March 31, 2016, from all religious denominations and faith groups, as to how they will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
The Salvation Army Response to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Truth and Reconciliation Resolution #48)
The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda recognizes our responsibility to reconcile with Indigenous peoples. We realize reconciliation is an ongoing process that acknowledges our past with Indigenous peoples, reframes our current relationships, and works toward a future based on dignity and trust.
The Salvation Army is committed to developing and implementing a plan of action in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. We will be intentional in responding to each of the appropriate Calls to Action including:
48. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
49. Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery
59. Educating congregations
60. Educating clergy and denominational leaders
Call to Action #48:
As a framework for reconciliation, we affirm the principles, norms and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are committed to:
- Ensuring that our institutions, policies, programs and practices uphold the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Respecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, including encouraging them to maintain their own cultural, religious and linguistic practices.
- Continuing dialogue and education within our organization and communities about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reflects and upholds international human rights law as previously articulated in the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The rights articulated in this declaration are not new or exclusive rights for Indigenous peoples. The Indigenous rights articulated are recognized as minimum standards “for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous peoples of the world” (Article 43).
The Salvation Army seeks to promote the dignity of all people “regardless of race, colour, creed, sex or age,” which affirms Article 2 of the declaration. We affirm the dignity of Indigenous peoples (Article 1). “As an international Christian movement with an acute social conscience, The Salvation Army is called to a mission of service that provides dignity and respect for all.”
We agree to be guided by the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through:
A. Accessibility: We believe that everyone should have access to basic rights, such as nutritious food, health care, education and economic opportunity. Identifying obstacles and seeking solutions is imperative to ensuring human rights are upheld.
B. Building Trust: Developing relationships of mutual respect with Indigenous peoples and groups is foundational. We will attempt to accomplish this by:
- Celebrating the Indigenous presence and expression within our organization.
- Engaging in effective and ongoing partnerships with Indigenous communities and organizations.
- Maintaining our commitment to reconciliation and walking in truth and accountability with Indigenous peoples.
C. Awareness and Education: We are committed to:
- Increasing awareness and education of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples through various presentation formats.
- Continuing to foster attitudes and values upholding human rights.
D. Leadership Development: We will continue developing Indigenous leaders within our organization to provide guidance and leadership for Indigenous peoples.
E. Promoting Women’s Equality: In our history as an organization, The Salvation Army has upheld and promoted the equality of women. We will continue to address the particular needs of Indigenous women by:
- Continuing to promote and maintain women’s rights.
- Offering ongoing support with Indigenous women experiencing violence.
As we seek to be a transforming influence in our communities, The Salvation Army is committed to the ongoing work of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. The Calls to Action reflect our willingness and commitment to seek justice and dignity for all people.
1 http://www.salvationarmy.org/ihq/E4E2D629AF94769680256D4E0041547D Accessed March 2015.
2 Why Dignity Matters. http://www.salvationarmy.ca/blog/why-dignity-matters/ Accessed March 2015.
3 Dignity Q & A. http://www.salvationarmy.ca/dignity/dignity-questions/ Accessed March 2015.