Truth, Healing and Transformation, 20-21 June 2016
The central committee, at its meeting in Trondheim, Norway, 22-28 June 2016:
- Receives the statement from the Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Reconciliation Processes and Indigenous Peoples: Truth, Healing and Transformation, 20-21 June 2016 in Trondheim, and commends it to the Reference Group on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, WCC member churches and ecumenical partners for reflection and response.
- Encourages member churches and ecumenical partners to ensure that the ongoing realities of injustice through colonization, militarization, political oppression, economic exploitation, violence against women and children, and landlessness of Indigenous Peoples inform and direct the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace in their own contexts. In this regard the Central Committee acknowledges with appreciation the recent positive conclusion of the long-running Kenbi land claim in Australia, in which the land was returned to its traditional owners.
- Encourages member churches and ecumenical partners to support and resource reconciliation processes, both ongoing and emerging, that provide safe truth-telling spaces.
- Urges member churches and ecumenical partners to actively stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples to combat racism and to achieve justice, incorporating the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a minimum standard.
- Urges member churches and ecumenical partners to be intentional and proactive about protecting God’s creation and the earth by acting to counter climate injustice.
Statement from The Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on “Reconciliation Processes and Indigenous Peoples: Truth, Healing and Transformation”
Trondheim, Norway, 20-21 June, 2016
For Proposal to WCC Central Committee Meeting
Trondheim, Norway, 22-28 June, 2016
We, the Indigenous Peoples from around the world, have journeyed across mother earth, through sacred mountains, lands, and waters to meet in Trondheim, Norway, at the base of the river that flows from the ancestral homelands of the Saami. We gathered, each with our own unique and specific identities, contexts, and dynamics; to share our stories, to listen, and to learn from each other, so that we could discern together recommendations to inspire and influence the WCC “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace” from an Indigenous perspective.
As Indigenous Peoples we seek guidance from our resilient ancestors, drawing on the strength of the past for a just future, to understand our beginning, our history, and our current realities and to stand strong in our own identities. We also look to the guidance of the future through the voices of our youth who gathered before this conference and co-created this statement. Our youth expressed their desire “to see a move towards a decolonised way of thinking in how we communicate across borders and between generations” that can inform “a movement for justice and reconciliation.” Their wisdom provided a profound example of strength, solidarity, truth telling, humility, and courage, which has revitalized our hope as we take our rightful place in the Body of Jesus Christ.
Historical and current experiences of colonization constitute an over-arching common burden for both non-Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples gathered at Trondheim. Even more than the physical elements of colonization, emotional and spiritual abuses are the worst consequences to endure. The Church must acknowledge its part in this harm. To journey toward authentic reconciliation that addresses constructively these aspects of deep trauma, healing must take place. Like the beating of the drum, this must come from the heart. The path to reconciliation is to heal both the oppressed and the oppressor.
Truth telling, repentance, and restitution are integral to true reconciliation. Reconciliation too often comes to us as “cheap grace”. It happens when perpetrators move to apology before first hearing the stories of pain and hurt. These stories, as uncomfortable as they are for the Christian Church, must be embraced as “Truth”. The colonial impacts that profoundly shape our indigenous communities’ current realities, including health and wellbeing, cannot be moved through too quickly. We must be heard and our stories must be sources of awareness, understanding, and repentance. This will ensure reconciliation processes that heal and transform relationships, as well as produce visible meaningful outcomes to change the horrendous realities facing our Indigenous communities.
An indigenous perspective in reconciliation is imperative. Any attempts at such processes must be led and directed by Indigenous People. This is to ensure a holistic, non-linear approach that creates appropriate spaces conducive to authentic truth telling. This truth becomes a source of building awareness and inspires taking responsibility.
Reconciliation from an indigenous perspective also means that this cannot only be an intellectual exercise. Reconciliation is an issue of the heart and spirit. It is profoundly emotional. It challenges and breaks the systemic colonial practices that have divided us, severely damaged our relationships, and have broken our hearts. As such, we will need to incorporate Truth and Reconciliation Processes that empower all of us to heal broken relationships, and inspire us to truly love ourselves.
We therefore recommend the following to the WCC Central Committee:
- That the ongoing realities of injustice through colonization, militarization, political oppression, economic exploitation, violence against women and children, and landlessness of Indigenous Peoples, inform and direct the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.
- That Central Committee encourages member churches to support and resource reconciliation processes, both on-going and emerging, that provide safe truth-telling spaces.
- That Central Committee urges member churches to actively stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples to combat racism and to achieve justice, incorporating the UN DRIP as a minimum standard.
- That Central Committee urges member churches to be intentional and proactive about protecting God’s creation and the earth by acting to counter climate injustice.
As representatives of the Ecumenical Indigenous Peoples Network meeting in Trondheim, we celebrate this opportunity to engage with the WCC Central Committee, and by extension with the wider ecumenical movement, to critically analyse and to reflect theologically on the issue and the meaning of a Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. Our hope is that our message is received in the spirit of Christ who countered systemic evil with costly grace and who exemplified how to live and witness to systemic good.
A Statement by Indigenous Peoples represented among the conference participants:
Kankanaey Igorot (Philippines)
Dewan Adat Papua (Indonesia)
Māori (New Zealand)
Maya K´iche (Guatemala)
Maya Tzutujil (Guatemala)
Guna Yala (Panamá)
Northern Cheyenne (USA)
Cherokee, Dakota (Canada)
Sami (Norway, Sweden and Finland)