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Anglicans encouraged to attend Truth and Reconciliation conference

By Murray MacAdam

Anglicans are encouraged to take part in a Truth and Reconciliation conference taking place in Toronto from May 31 to June 2, aiming to bring together residential school survivors, aboriginal leaders, government leaders, youth and many others to hear from survivors and explore ways of nurturing positive relationships for the future.

The conference includes speeches by the Truth and Reconciliation commissioners and by Premier Dalton McGuinty, performances by aboriginal singers and dancers, workshops on addiction, education, missing aboriginal women, youth activism for reconciliation and many other topics. The conference program is posted at Conference fees are very affordable, at only $30 for one day or $50 for two days. The youth event is free for those between ages 16 to 26. The conference is open to anyone interested, and participants do not need to attend for the full three days.

Bishop Philip Poole will take part in a workshop on “The Churches and the Future of Aboriginal Relations,” being chaired by the Rev. Andrew Wesley. The Rev. Nicola Skinner, the Rev. Riscylla Shaw and the Rev. Frank Tyrrell will listen to the stories of residential school survivors in a special listening area. The Rev. Helena Houldcroft, who was heavily involved in residential school survivor issues in the Diocese of Qu’Appelle, will also take part. The conference is supported by General Synod and the Diocese of Toronto. It’s being organized with support from the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Council Fire Native Cultural Centre.

Other Anglicans will also take part. Dave Gordon, a member of Trinity, Aurora, has been hard at work with other volunteers to help organize the conference. He feels so strongly about this issue that he’s given up a week of his summer holidays to do this work. “This is an issue that every Anglican needs to respond to, as best they can,” says Mr. Gordon. “It will mean so much to residential school survivors to have Anglicans walking alongside them at this conference. I’m really glad that Bishop Poole is taking part, and I hope that a large number of Anglicans will join him.”

Archbishop Colin Johnson sent a note to clergy on May 11 encouraging them to take part. “I encourage all clergy and all Anglicans to join Bishop Philip Poole at the Truth and Reconciliation conference in Toronto from May 31 to June 2. Hearing residential school survivors speak from experience and joining them in discussing ways in which we can nurture healing is so important for our church and our society. This conference includes an amazing range of workshops and speakers.” Retired Archbishop Terence Finlay, the Primate’s Special Envoy on Residential Schools and on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, hopes to attend the conference and also encourages Anglicans to attend.

If you’d like to attend, please register as soon as possible, as the official registration deadline is May 16, and the conference capacity is limited.

To learn more, contact Social Justice and Advocacy Consultant Murray MacAdam,