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WCC to convene June conference on reconciliation processes in indigenous contexts

WCC to convene June conference on reconciliation processes in indigenous contexts

Members of the Sami Church Council of Church of Norway, at a pre-meeting in Tromsø, Norway. © Tore Johnsen

31 March 2016

The World Council of Churches (WCC) will convene a conference on the theme “Reconciliation Processes in Indigenous Contexts” in Trondheim, Norway, on 20-21 June.

The conference, which will be hosted by the Sami Church Council (Church of Norway), will be held in connection with the WCC Central Committee meeting on 22-28 June, also in Trondheim.

Tore Johnsen, general secretary of the Sami Church Council in Norway and moderator of the WCC’s Indigenous Peoples’ Programme Reference Group, says “the link to the WCC Central Committee meeting is important, because it provides visibility to indigenous peoples as an important voice in the ecumenical movement.”

Central to the conference are two thematic focuses, “Truth and Healing” and “Reconciliation and Transformation.”

Johnsen explains, “The theme of ‘Truth and Healing’ is of particular value from an indigenous perspective since the denial of truth is a root cause of the trauma and marginalization experienced by indigenous peoples. Truth-telling challenges the cultures of silence, ignorance and denial, which in so many places are still distorting the relationships between indigenous peoples and majority populations. Truth-telling also involves restoring our own voices, as part of our own healing.”

Johnsen adds, “True reconciliation, however, also involves transformation, a movement from truth to changed relationships, which is critical in the ongoing struggles for indigenous peoples’ rights and dignity. The conference will bring together important experiences from various parts of the world, and we hope to connect the insights with the WCC’s overarching work on the pilgrimage of justice and peace.”

“This connection, we believe, will  also provide keys for strengthening the presence and contribution of indigenous peoples to the ecumenical movement in the years to come”, Johnsen concludes.

WCC activities in solidarity with indigenous peoples

WCC Indigenous Peoples’ Programme Reference Group meeting December 2015