The Statement by The United Church of Canada on the Legal Settlement for Omar Khadr

The United Church respects the decision of the federal government to apologize to Omar Khadr   Published on July 12, 2017, accessed on Facebook

The United Church of Canada respects the decision of the federal government to apologize to Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, for its role in his ordeal that began with his detention by the United States in Afghanistan.

Since 2008, the United Church has written to the federal government on several occasions regarding the miscarriage of justice in the treatment of Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old when he was detained and considered a child soldier under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a signatory. At that time, the church requested that an independent review of the Canadian government’s involvement in Khadr’s detention be implemented.

In a unanimous ruling in 2010, the Supreme Court found Khadr’s human rights were being violated at Guantanamo Bay: “The deprivation of [Khadr’s] right to liberty and security of the person is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice,” the court ruled.

“The interrogation of a youth detained without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

There is much brokenness in this story. However, as followers of Christ, we find our hope in the power of restorative justice to mend deep divisions between individuals, peoples, and nations.

From 15,000 years to 150- prayers and reflections

July 1 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation. As we reflect on this milestone, there are “thoughts, feelings, and prayers Indigenous friends and relations want our whole church to hear. As we mark Canada 150, we need to contemplate them, share them in our networks, and lift them up in worship on July 2, the Sunday closest to Canada Day. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “It takes two to speak the truth—one to speak and another to hear. (David Giuliano, Community Capacity Development Coordinator, Aboriginal Ministries, The United Church of Canada).

Worship resources

Reflections on Canada 150 from Indigenous people

All My Relations Network: How Shall We Celebrate Canada 150?

Prayer (By Liz Mackenzie, Saskatchewan Conference Personnel Minister)

One:   From the West to the East, the North and to the South;

All:      we are your people, O God, and we live in your world.

One:   From sea to sea to sea; from mountains to prairies; rock shields to Great Lakes; bountiful fruit orchards to windswept east coast cliffs;

All:      we are your people, Creator God, called to celebrate your good creation.

One:   From the first peoples to inhabit Turtle Island to the newest visitors to arrive in Canada;

All:      your Spirit lives in all your peoples – yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

One:   Young and old, in the diversity of our abilities, sexualities, gender identities, ethnicity and race;

All:      You gather us as sheaves of wheat and call us to live as one.

One:   You call us together, Source of all Love, to be the bearers of your love in this great country of Canada;

All:      As we celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, may we work together for a country and a world where all are included in your dream of justice, peace, reconciliation, and grace.  May it be so, Gracious God.  Amen.

June 5 Facebook Live event: anti-poverty

Minister Duclos to Host a Facebook Live Event Discussing the Federal Anti-Poverty Strategy

On June 5, the Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development, will be holding a Facebook live event in order to discuss poverty reduction, and the federal government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.  The event will be held on June 5 from 4:30-5:30pm EST, and can be accessed via the following link:  https://www.facebook.com/SocialDevelopmentCanada/

Participants will be invited to submit questions and pose comments.

SK Conference The Call Echoes weekend June 16-18

You’re invited to The Call Echoes, SK Conference events June 16, 17, 18 in Saskatoon
Register: www.sk.united-church.ca/register/ or call the Conference office.

In need of some faith revival and community? Come and be fed . . . Saskatchewan Conference does not have an annual general meeting this year, but The Call Echoes, Saskatchewan Conference’s Ministry event, is for you. This is an exciting get together for renewal, justice-seeking, learning, and celebration of our ministry is for everyone. Please help promote these events! (See below for promotion resources and details).

Come join us for a Friday retreat, Saturday singing and workshops, and the celebration of ministries banquet, and Sunday’s celebration of new ministries service. We even have a micro brewery tour and tasting! It all takes place June 16 – 18 in Saskatoon. Please register as soon as possible as registration is only open until June 5th. Some events have limited enrollment.

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Bill C-16 stalled in the Senate: take action for transgender human rights

Trans* people are ministers and leaders in the United Church and across the country. They are members of our families, our loved ones, our friends, colleagues, and neighbours, and they deserve to have their identities protected by the law.

Bill C-16 would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression. It will also amend the Canadian Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression as a recognized group when offences are motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate.

Bill C-16 passed its third reading in the House of Commons in November 2016, and is now in its second reading in the Senate. Some groups are actively campaigning the Senate to block this bill. Please take action by contacting your senator as soon as possible, and urge the Senate to make Bill C-16 law.

Saskatchewan Senators: https://sencanada.ca/en/senators

Raynell Andreychuk raynell.andreychuk@sen.parl.gc.ca

Denise Batters: denise.batters@sen.parl.gc.ca

Lillian Eva Dyck: lillian.dyck@sen.parl.gc.ca

David Tkachuk david.tkachuk@sen.parl.gc.ca

Pamela Wallin: pamela.wallin@sen.parl.gc.ca

Opportunity to have your say in Canada’s International Priorities

This invitation comes to us from the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation, of which Saskatchewan Conference is a member.

The Inter-Council Network (ICN), of which SCIC is a member, has prepared a submission to Global Affairs Canada’s review of the agency’s international assistance policies and priorities.

The submission reflects input gathered from all member Councils across the country. Now, we’re looking for your opinion on the draft version of our report.

READ THE DRAFT

Background: On May 18, 2016, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, launched a public review and consultation of Canada’s international assistance policy and funding framework.

This International Assistance Review (IAR) will inform how Canada can best refocus its international assistance on the poorest and most vulnerable people and support fragile states. It will also shape Canada’s approach to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As part of the IAR, the Minister is placing a special emphasis on the rights of women and girls, and plans to apply a feminist approach to Canada’s international assistance activities going forward.

Following your review of the draft report (accessible here), please answer the survey questions. The survey has 14 questions and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. Your responses are confidential and results will not be attributed to any specific organization or individual. The survey will be open until Tuesday, July 19th at 5:00 pm PST / 8:00 pm EST.

Thank you for your input! In the coming weeks, the draft submission will be revised to reflect inputs from the survey, and submitted by the end of July 2016.

Reflection on the tragedy in La Loche

In addition to the immediate human response of standing with the people of La Loche in their shock, grief and pain, expressed by executive secretary Bill Doyle, there is a more long- term challenge that this tragedy places before us, namely, to renew our efforts to address the plight of dozens of Indigenous communities and thousands of Indigenous individuals and families, across this nation.  We need to decide to fashion a new Canada, one that reflects justice and equality for all.

Since the shootings in La Loche, we’ve learned that this community has the highest suicide rate in Saskatchewan; the unemployment rate approaches 30 per cent; it lags far behind other parts of Canada in terms of the basics of housing, health care, an adequate education system, recreational facilities, and so on.  In short, it is all too typical of Indigenous communities in Canada.

Federal and provincial governments have expressed their empathy with the people of La Loche, and our premier has pledged to provide whatever support is needed by this community. But this is the same provincial government that has adamantly refused to even consider resource-sharing with the Indigenous peoples of Saskatchewan, and La Loche is situated in a resource-rich area.  As one caller to CBC’s “Cross Country Check Up” on January 24th put it, quite bluntly, “The politicians have jumped on the bandwagon. I hope they mean it this time”.

But it’s not a challenge just to our governments.  Another caller stated, “We live in a profoundly racist country”.  Every one of us needs to ask ourselves whether we are committed to learning the factual history of our nation, including the shameful, even criminal, treatment of Canada’s First Peoples over the course of several hundred years, and to probe the deep-seated prejudices that reside within our own hearts and minds.

What happened in La Loche is a tragedy most of us will never experience and can scarcely comprehend, but it is also as opportunity for a new start.  We could construct a “new Canada”, if enough of us decided to do so.

Dory Cook, Dawn Guenther, and Bill Wall
leadership team, All My Relations Network