For thousands of years Indigenous people have walked this land. We acknowledge that partnering with the world is to commit ourselves to reconciliation with the first peoples of this land and seeking forgiveness for the devastation that contact with Europeans brought with it. Our ancestors were like a pandemic destroying the culture, religious practices and leadership structure of the first peoples. We brought smallpox, measles and other diseases as well as a lust for land, which we called “property”. Reconciliation is ongoing for the destruction that these diseases left behind, and for the prejudices that devastated these nations.
In his 1986 apology, the Rt. Rev. Robert Smith, then Moderator of the United Church of Canada, said: “Long before my people journeyed to this land, your people were here, and you received from your elders an understanding of creation, and of the mystery that surrounds us all that was deep and to be treasured. We did not hear you when shared your vision. In our zeal to tell you of the good news of Jesus Christ, we were closed to the value of your spirituality. We confused western ways and culture with the depth and breadth and length and height of the gospel of Christ. We imposed our civilization as a condition of accepting the gospel. We tried to make you like us and in so doing we helped to destroy the vision that made you who you were. As a result, you and we are poorer as the image of the creator in us became twisted, blurred and we are not what we are meant by God to be. We ask you to forgive us and to walk together with us in the spirit of Christ so that our peoples may be blessed, and God’s creation healed.”
This apology was “heard but not accepted by Indigenous peoples at that time as it was felt that more worked need to be done. Work continues to this day toward reconciliation.
One act of repentance is to acknowledge