INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY AND MENNONITE CHURCH CANADA PLAN PILGRIMAGE FOR INDIGENOUS RIGHTS IN ONTARIO THIS SPRING.

CPTnet

27 February 2017

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY AND MENNONITE CHURCH CANADA PLAN PILGRIMAGE FOR INDIGENOUS RIGHTS IN ONTARIO THIS SPRING.

CPT-Indigenous Peoples Solidarity team is partnering with Mennonite Church Canada for a 600 km walk this spring (April 23-May 14) from Kitchener to Ottawa, ON to engage churches in a series of conversations about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), exploring why it matters, the hope it offers, and how we can collectively live into it.

The Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights is being planned in response to Article 48 of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, which summons churches and faith groups to public dialogue and action in support of UNDRIP. The walk will be held in advance of the second reading of MP Romeo Saganash’s Bill C-262 – a private member’s bill which would provide a legislative framework for implementation of the Declaration. Similar to many Indigenous walks, the pilgrimage will conclude in Ottawa (Algonquin territory) to demonstrate support of the Declaration and call upon the Federal Government to implement the Declaration in a meaningful way.  

“This is a tangible opportunity for the church to witness its support for the rights of Indigenous peoples,” stated MC Canada Indigenous-Settler Relations Director Steve Heinrichs. “Personally, I’m excited to engage in meaningful conversations with a wide diversity of communities as to why adoption of the Declaration is good news, not just for Indigenous nations, but for all Canadians.”

March Honour Walk 

March 2015 - Settlers from Winnipeg walked 550 km from Stoney Knoll, SK to Edmonton, AB to honour residential school survivors (photo courtesy of Brad Leitsch). 

Over the coming months of planning, MC Canada and CPT-IPS will be engaging a Discernment Circle of trusted Indigenous and settler advocates – a mix of both Traditional and Christian identities – to invite guidance and feedback to ensure the Pilgrimage is conducted in a good way. An intention and hope of the organizers is to make respectful connections with local Indigenous communities of the lands they walk – namely, the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples –in a way that gifts and does not burden.

“I expect hard work. 35 kilometres a day seems huge, but I welcome the opportunity to be touching the land with every step I take,” said co-organizer and CPT-IPS member Kathy Moorhead-Thiessen. “I relish the conversations and the teachings from the ones I will walk with and the ones I will meet along the way.” 

CPT-IPS is welcoming people to join ten or more days of the anticipated three-week walk as a special delegation (substituting for the previously scheduled May IPS delegation) to engage in learning and action for our partners and the rights of Indigenous peoples. In spring 2016, CPT responded to the TRC’s Call to Action #48 with agreement to comply with UNDRIP and engage in public dialogue and action to support these rights.

People interested in joining the Pilgrimage as a CPT delegate can apply online at: http://cpt.org/participate/delegation/apply (please indicate the dates interested: Kitchener, ON to Ottawa, ON  April 23-May 14; Kitchener to Peterborough, ON April 23-May 3; or Peterborough to Ottawa, ON May 3-May 14). CPT delegates attending the Pilgrimage should have the physical ability to walk 25-35 km (15-22 miles) per day for multiple days in a row.