Canadian Baptists and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

In 2015 at the end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission a Call to Action was issued by the commissioners. Article 48 of that call read:

"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: i. Ensuring that their institutions, policies, programs, and practices comply with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. ii. Respecting Indigenous peoples’ right to selfdetermination 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. iii. Engaging in ongoing public dialogue and actions to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. iv. 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."

As Canadian Baptists we were slower to respond than the March 31st deadline because we needed to honour our own process of decision-making, which meant waiting until we were all together in May of this year where we discussed what responding to this request might mean. There is work yet to be done to put flesh on what this means for our denomination but we heartily committed ourselves to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation.

Jodi Spargur