top of page

Confession of Sin

Our arrogance in dismissing indigenous spirituality

Confession of Sin

Our arrogance in dismissing indigenous spirituality

For a number of years since the indigenous Covenant of 1994. There has been a call for the apology for spiritual abuse endured by indigenous peoples through the era of colonial expansion across the land and particularly through the era of the Indian Residential Schools.

In the apology to survivors of the residential schools delivered in August 6, 1993, Archbishop Michael Pearce expressed his remorse on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada, that we tried to remake you in our own image.

Spoken by Bishop Larry Robertson July 19th/2019, while attending the steaming ceremony of CTFN’s dug-out canoe on the site of the past residential school:

Today, I offer this apology for our cultural and spiritual arrogance towards the indigenous people, the First Nation, the Inuit, and Métis, for the harm we inflicted upon you. I do this at the desire of many across the church, at the call of the Anglican Council of Indigenous People, and at the request and with the authority of the Council of the General Synod. I confess our sins, in failing to acknowledge that as First Peoples living here for thousands of years. You had a spiritual relationship with the Creator and with the land. We did not care enough to learn how your spirituality has always has always infused your governance social structures and family life.

I confess our sins and demonizing Indigenous spirituality and in belittling the traditional teaching of your grandmother's and grandfather’s that deserve to be passed down to the Elders. I confess the sin of our arrogance in dismissing indigenous spirituality and discipline as incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus and insisting there is no place for them in the Christian worship. I confess our sin in acts such as smothering the smudges, forbidding the pipe, stopping the drums, hiding the mask, destroying totem poles, silencing the song. killing the dances and banning the potlaches. With deep remorse, I acknowledge the intergenerational spiritual harm caused by our actions.

I confess our sin and declaring the teachings of the medicine wheel to be taken and primitive. I confess our sins and robbing your children and youth of the opportunity to knowing the spiritual ancestors and the great wealth of wisdom guidance for living in a good way with the Creator, the land, and all people.

With such shameful Behavior. I am very sorry we were so full of our own self-importance. We followed too much devices the desires of our own heart. We were ignorant, we were incensitive, we offended you. We offended the Creator.

As we look to you today, we have come to acknowledge our need to repent. As we turn to God we say we have offended against thy holy law. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.

I know the importance. I know an important part of repentance is sincere lament and that an important part of lament is our intention to lead a new life. Following the Commandments of God and walking from henceforth in God's fully way. With humility, I asked our church to turn to the Creator seeking guidance and steadfastness of will in our efforts to help heal the spiritual wounds we inflicted. Let us commit ourselves to learning how traditional indigenous practises contribute to healing and to honor them.

I remind our church of our solemn responsibility to honor the calls to action from Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, notably, call #60. We call on leaders of the church parties to the settlement agreement and all other faiths in collaboration with indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, Schools of Theology Seminaries, and other religious teaching Centers; to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities;
On a need to respect indigenous spirituality in its own right;
The history and Legacy of residential school and the roles of the church parties in that system; The history and Legacy of religious conflict in aboriginal families and communities; and the responsibility that the churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.

Reverend Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; Spoken by Bishop Larry Robertson.

I also remind our church in our solemn responsibility to honour general Senate 2001 public endorsement of the United Nations declaration to the rights of indigenous people.

Article 12 declared; indigenous people have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual religious tradition, customs and ceremonies, the right to maintain protect and have access and privacy to their religious and cultural sites, the right to use and control of their ceremonial object; and the right to repeat repatriation of the human remains.

Article 25 declares: indigenous people have the right to manifest practice, develop and teach their spiritual religious traditions, customs and ceremony; the right to maintain protect and have access and privacy to their religious and cultural site; and to control the ceremonial objects. The indigenous people have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used land, territory, waters and coastal sea and other resources ;and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.

I call the whole Church to pray for the vision Keepers commissioned by General Synod in 2062 to hold our church accountable and respecting the rights of indigenous peoples to be self-determining. I call our Bishops, clergy and lay leaders to draw Elders into conversation regarding the practices of the past.

At one time we've band expressions of indigenous spirituality in Christian worship, having seen the error of our way, we are now incouraging such expression. Many of the Elders have followed the former band out of loyalty to a church they love. Many of these, have at the same time kept alive the value, ideals and teachings of their own Elders.

Today they are an essential guide both to the underlying teaching that have embodied in the practice of the past as well as the teaching of their own faith.

Today they are an essential guide both to the underlying teaching that have embodied in the practice of the past as well as the teaching of their own faith.

Today we ask them with great respect to help guide us. To honour the wisdom and practice of the past and to live into a truly indigenous expression of our faith in the future.

I have heard a number of Elders speak of how the children and youth of this generation and the seven to come, are in great need of the opportunity to be guided in a spirituality that is true to their indigenous identity. Let us stand with the Elders and encouraging youth to lay claim to that spirituality as their right and their pursuit of health and happiness.

I asked the whole church to be extraordinary generous in building up of the Anglican healing fund and its support for initiative that advance the healing of language and cultural abuse, oppression and the intergenerational trauma and learning of traditional knowledge and culture. This is in the effort to further deepen ones understanding of the spiritual way of celebrating indigenous identity and embracing the reality that indigenous people can enjoy everything God created them to be.

I call on the whole church to faithfully endorse the Anglican Council of indigenous people to move forward with their plans for Ministry shape by the teaching of the elders gospel-based discipleship and a commitment to prophetic pastoral care rooted in fullness and in teaching indigenous community freedom and joy, Finally, I call us to renew our commitment to our baptismal covenant, especially our vow to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

In living this vow in a good way, let us embrace the seven Grandfather teachings; love, respect, truth, honesty, wisdom, courage, and humility.

I offer this apology in the name of Jesus Christ the great pain barrer and peacemaker. I have hope through him, that we will be able to walk together in newness of life. The most Reverend Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; and if I could add my name to that, Bishop Larry Robertson.

Bishop of the Anglican Church.

bottom of page