Monday, May 02, 2022

Six Nations cancellation of Archbishop a missed opportunity

Reverend Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury and effective head of the Anglican Church worldwide, is currently visiting Canada, specifically to meet with indigenous leaders and representatives, and to make an official apology for the Anglican Church's part in Canada's Indigenous residential school system (which was second only to the Catholic Church's). I watched some of his speechifying, and it seemed heartfelt, and the man did seem visibly shaken by what he had seen and heard.

After his time in and around Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, the Archbishop was supposed to visit a Six Nations of the Grand River reserve near Brantford, Ontario, the site of another ex-residential school and an Indigenous-run Anglican church. The Six Nations of the Grand River people (or more specifically the Mohawk-led  Survivors' Secretariat), though, have snubbed his visit, saying they don't need more fine words, but they need action (which seems to mean, in practice, money). They say that they were not given "enough lead time to respect Indigenous protocols", whatever that might mean. In fact, it turns out that they cancelled the visit way back in mid-April.

I understand that they are upset, and that they have already received apologies from other Anglican leaders. But, surely, this is a bad look for the Ontario Indigenous band. Could they not have the grace to at least listen to the man? The Archbishop was careful not to over-promise and under-deliver during his various speeches in Saskatchewan, and indeed it is not clear quite what he can practically do. But I don't see what the Six Nations group expects to gain from this rebuff. Reconciliation is a two-way process, and cutting off communications in this way cannot possibly help their cause. Not that my opinion means anything.

The Archbishop will instead be meeting with Indigenous representatives in Toronto, who seem to have been able to arrange it at short notice, while still "respecting Indigenous protocols". 

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