The diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy Committee will host its annual Outreach & Advocacy Conference on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. As has been the case in recent years, the conference will be held online, via Zoom, with separate sessions for the a plenary, morning and afternoon workshops, and the closing plenary discussion.
The theme for this year’s conference is “Pointing our Feet Toward Right Relationship,” a phrase that emerged out of a conversation between Elin Goulden, the diocese’s Social Justice and Advocacy consultant, and Bishop Riscylla Shaw, who will be the keynote speaker at the event.
“As a Church, we’ve started to make some progress toward reconciliation and right relationship,” says Ms. Goulden. “Between the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a lot of dedicated work at both the national church and diocesan levels, most Anglicans are now aware of the Church’s role in running residential schools, and a growing number are becoming more deeply aware of other justice issues facing Indigenous peoples in Canada. But we are still just in the beginning stages of what it would look like to walk together in right relationship. There’s a lot more work to do.”
Bishop Shaw agrees. “The work of untangling the Church in Canada from the colonial project is complex and requires long-term commitment. Yet our feet have been set on a new path and are pointing in a new direction, toward the shalom God means for all of us. We just need to keep walking on that path.”
With Métis family roots, Bishop Riscylla Shaw grew up on a small farm, learning from the land. Her ministry has been inspired and informed by the work of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Before her ordination as bishop, she served as a witness and ambassador for the Anglican Church of Canada at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. She was a member of the Primate’s Commission on Discovery, Reconciliation and Justice, which produced the award-winning documentary Doctrine of Discovery: Stolen Lands, Strong Hearts, and currently serves on the Jubilee Commission to propose a just, sustainable and equitable funding base for the self-determining Indigenous Anglican Church in Canada. Bishop Shaw is also a contributor to the publication Decolonizing Discipline – a call to implement TRC Call to Action 6.
The theme of moving toward right relationship will be carried into several of the workshops to be offered at the conference. Staff from Toronto Urban Native Ministry will discuss how they confront Canada’s colonial legacies on a daily basis in their ministry with urban Indigenous people. Dawn Maracle, a Mohawk educator and organizer and the interim Reconciliation Animator for the Anglican Church of Canada, will present a workshop on “The Myth of Canada the Good: Why we all need to understand the Indian Act.” As Ms. Maracle points out, “Residential schools are only a small part of the story: the Indian Act is a piece of colonial legislation that continues to shape Indigenous realities to this day.”
Other workshops will explore the concept of right relationship more broadly, taking a deeper look at the systemic injustices that affect prisoners and ex-prisoners, people experiencing homelessness, those who are precariously employed and people with disabilities. As Deacon Claudette Taylor, a member of the Social Justice and Advocacy Committee, points out, “God calls us to shalom – to seek right relationship with all. The theme of ‘pointing our feet’ suggests movement that may be a bit hesitant at first, but has the potential to become dynamic.”
As of mid-July, a few workshops had remained to be confirmed, but it was hoped that there would be at least eight options available (at least four in each of the morning and afternoon sessions) when registration opens in September. Since each workshop, as well as the opening and closing plenary sessions, will be offered as a separate Zoom event, registration is required for each separate session. Generous breaks will be built into the day to prevent “Zoom fatigue.” For each session, a moderator will assist with timekeeping, technical assistance and keeping track of participants’ questions. The closing plenary will offer a chance for participants to reflect together on what they have learned, and what they have been challenged or inspired to do differently going forward.
Registration will open after Labour Day. There is no cost to attend; however, donations to assist with the cost of honoraria will be gratefully received via the diocese’s website. (Donations over $10 are eligible for a tax receipt.) All are welcome to attend – for the entire day or only a part! Visit www.toronto.anglican.ca/outreachconference for more details and to register.