We wanted to share some news about some of the incredible support this initiative is getting. People all across Canada have begun fasting for the passage of Bill C-262 in the Senate. They are fasting for political leaders to do what’s right - to honour Indigenous rights and to embrace the UNDRIP.
You can follow along and leave messages of support on their Facebook page here.
Here's the message one of those supporters, Steve Heinreichs of the Mennonite Church, had to share:
This is a crucial moment in Canadian history. Do we have the courage, trust and moral desire to choose the good, just and healing path? God grant us strength. “Oh that we would choose life, so that all our descendants - both Indigenous and Settler - may truly live.”
“In Canada, law must cease to be a tool for the dispossession and dismantling of Indigenous societies. It must dramatically change if it is going to have any legitimacy within First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities. Until Canadian law becomes an instrument supporting Indigenous peoples' empowerment, many Indigenous people will continue to regard it as a morally and politically malignant force. A commitment to truth and reconciliation demands that Canada's legal system be transformed” (TRC Final Report, Volume 6: Reconciliation).
We have an historic opportunity to recognize in Canadian law the rights of Indigenous peoples - rights necessary for their “survival, dignity, and well-being” (Article 43, UNDRIP). Not once, but twice, does the Declaration use the phrase “urgent need” to describe how pressing it is that we “respect and promote” and implement these rights. Now is the time. Let’s pass Bill C-262.
But our Conservative brothers and sisters are anxious... anxious about how the implementation of the UN Declaration will impact resource extraction and the jurisdiction of provinces over lands and territories. Please pray that these Senators would courageously pursue what is just and true - Treaty relationships of mutual respect - rather than the desire to maintain control (accrued through historic wrongs). The Declaration is basically, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It will require change for the privileged, but doing right is always blessing, not curse.
What difference does it make if a small group of women and men pray justice for Indigenous peoples, especially in relation to the Canadian state? This morning I re-read the following words from my mentor Ched Myers. Reflecting on Jesus’ call for us to stay vigilant and address political mountains and parliament hills (Mark 11), Ched writes, “To pray is to learn to believe in a transformation of self and world, which seems, empirically, impossible... What is unbelief but the despair, dictated by the dominant powers, that nothing can really change?” May we keep the faith. Things can change - thank God (and I say that purposely). Indigenous rights can be honoured and implemented in Canadian law.
“Why did you do this? What did it accomplish?” I believe in compassionate political action that centres genuine dialogue and persuasion. I believe in collective mobilization in solidarity with the oppressed to show power to the powerful. I believe in straightforward tactics like phoning Senators, writing petitions and doing postcard campaigns. I believe in creative and symbolic actions that capture hearts like the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights (that was amazing). And above all, I believe in God. I believe in the necessity of drawing on a force more powerful to help induce the critical change we need. I totally understand if that sounds strange or even absurd. But I’m moved by ancient human wisdoms, be they Christian, Indigenous, Hindu or Muslim that invite us to place trust in spiritual power in order to bring justice, equity and life “here on earth, as in heaven.” One of my favourite stories that speaks to this is from the Hebrew/Jewish tradition. It’s the absolute fast called by Esther to prevent the “legal” slaughter of Jews by the Persian government. Note what their fast was about, and the impact it had.
“Their fasting was of the most radical kind; they abstained from food and drink for a period of three days. Clearly, their fast was not for the purpose of spiritual formation, growth in grace, self-denial, sanctification, or any other transformative purpose. Their fast was intended to get God's attention so that God might intervene and avert the crisis. Their fasting was a matter of life and death” (L.R. Martin). And God heard their prayers! God worked behind the scenes to give favor to Esther and to orchestrate a reversal of political circumstances, defeating that genocidal law, and bringing safety to the Jewish community.
In Canada, law has been the foremost weapon of colonialism against Indigenous peoples. We have an opportunity to change that, today. Bill C-262 would ensure the adoption and implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.