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The quest for hope and healing : a history of the residential school apology from St. Andrew's United… Kasmer, Julianne 2007

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 Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz, quoted in Vanier, Jean. Becoming Human, (Toronto: House1of Anansi Press, 1998) p.157 Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Trans. Maxwell Staniforth (London: Penguin, 1964)2Book Six, 19,  p. 951   THE  QUEST  FOR  HOPE  AND  HEALING: A  HISTORY  OF  THE  RESIDENTIAL  SCHOOL  APOLOGY   FROM   ST ANDREW’S  UNITED CHURCH  IN  PORT  ALBERNI,  BCMAY  6,  1997Julianne Kasmer, 2007Photo Credit: Diane Morrison - Alberni Valley Times“There can be no forgiveness...where perpetrators, whether individuals or collective, lack the courageto disarm themselves in front of the victims. This is a painful and demanding act.”1“Because a thing is difficult for you, do not therefore suppose it to be beyond mortal power. On thecontrary, if anything is possible and proper for [people] to do, assume that it must fall within you owncapacity.22Table of ContentsTime Line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8The Apology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58Appendix I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60Appendix II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61Appendix III . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63Appendix IV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64Appendix V . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65Appendix VI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70Appendix VII . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71Appendix VIII . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72Appendix IX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73Appendix X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74Appendix XI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 753Time Line1973 - Alberni Indian Residential School closes1986 - Apology of the 31  General Council of the United Church to Native Congregations st1995 - Dormitory Supervisor, Arthur Plint, is convicted of sexual assault at Alberni IndianResidential School in 1960's. Ongoing appeals process beginsJanuary 1996 - the congregation of St Andrew’s begins a study of residential school issuesFebruary 1996 - BC Conference Minister Reverend Keith Howard, Communications, Global andSocietal Concerns; Gaye Sharpe; and John Siebert, General Council staff member for aboriginalaffairs speak to the residential school study group at St Andrew’sFebruary 1996 - a petition originating with the congregation of St Andrew’s calling for a formalapology for participation in residential schools is forwarded, with concurrence, from Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery to BC Conference of the United Church April 1996 - Charlie and Maude Thompson, members of local First Nations and former residentialschool students speak to the study groupMay 1996 - meeting of residential school study group, petition to Minister of Indian Affairs re:resources for First Nations in need of healing from effects of residential schoolsMay 1996 - BC Conference of United Church Annual Meeting in Qualicum Beach- Moderator Marion Best meets with members of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council todiscuss an apology- Moderator Marion Best, General Secretary Virginia Coleman, and General Council staffJohn Siebert meet with interested members of St Andrew’sJune 1996 - meeting to begin formulating a St Andrew’s’ Apology, first draft complete by June 24September 1996 - General Council Staff, John Siebert travels to St Andrew’s for discussionOctober 1996 - St Andrew’s presentation to BC Treaty Commission on land claimsJanuary 1997 - eight members of the Nuu-chah-nulth people attend a gathering to review the draft ofthe St Andrew’s ApologyFebruary 1997 - email from GC staff John Siebert urging caution around an apology. February 1997 - Reverend Kathy Hogman presents petition from St Andrew’s to Comox-NanaimoPresbytery Meeting for concurrence; forwarded to BC Conference Annual Meeting, May 9  and 10  th thMarch 1997 - letter to Reverend Kathy Hogman from General Council Legal Counsel, Cynthia GunnApril 1997 - plans for a presentation of the Apology and a feast proceed May 6, 1997 - St Andrew’s United Church hosts a feast for around 700 guests at Maht Mahs4May 9, 10, 1997 - the petition for an apology is forwarded, with concurrence, from the meeting ofBritish Columbia Conference to General Council of the United Church of CanadaAugust 1997 - meeting of General Council in Camrose, Alberta issues “statement of repentance”rather than an apology for residential school harm1997 - United Church of Canada instigates a third-party lawsuit against the Federal Government overvicarious liability1998 - A British Columbia lower court ruling attributes vicarious liability in the AIRS case jointly tothe federal government and United Church of Canada1998 - United Church appeals Justice Brenner’s decision on vicarious liability to the Supreme CourtJune 1998 - Moderator The Right Reverend Bill Phipps sends out a letter to all congregationsexpressing the great difficulty with which a decision to appeal the judgement was madeSeptember 6, 1998 - meeting at St Andrew’s to discuss upcoming visit of Moderator PhippsSeptember 1998 - Moderator and eleven members of General Council Executive visit St Andrew’sOctober 1998 - letter from St Andrew’s expressing frustration with reluctance of General Council toapologize, and behaviour of United Church lawyers1998 - United Church of Canada at last delivers an Apology for Complicity in the Indian ResidentialSchool System, delivered by the Moderator, The Right Reverend William PhippsMarch 2000 - Clare Hunston’s Addenda to the Apology is presented at a gathering of ResidentialSchool Workers at Vancouver School of Theology2003 - Alternative Dispute Resolution process is put in place to deal with claims of physical or sexualabuse or wrongful confinement by former residential school students2005 - First Nations groups, churches and the federal government sign an agreement whichrecognizes and guarantees compensation for loss of language and cultureSeptember 19, 2007 - Implementation of a final, comprehensive, national Indian Residential SchoolsSettlement Agreement October 13, 2007 - Tseshaht First Nation (one of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth peoples) celebrates  the officialopening of a new, traditionally designed House of Governance on the Tseshaht reserve just outsidePort Alberni. They had up until that time been operating their administrative centre near by out of thedormitory of the former Alberni Indian Residential School. Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. Attached by Keith Howard to the3email copy of “The Moderator’s Letter re: Residential School Trial”, Thursday, July 2, 1998.Right Reverend Bill Phipps. Moderator’s Letter re: Residential School Trial, 2 July,41998.5“We have learned, rather too late, that action comes, not from thought, but from a readiness forresponsibility.”  3Introduction1998 was a difficult year for the United Church of Canada. A lengthy legal process, stillunresolved, hung over the denomination. The case involved vicarious liability for claims resultingfrom the conviction of Arthur Plint, a former dormitory supervisor at the Alberni “Indian” residentialschool, for physical and sexual abuse that had occurred at the school in the 1960s. The GeneralCouncil Executive, the church’s lawyers and legal counsel and ordinary members of thedenomination had struggled since the original revelations of the trial and Plint’s subsequentconviction,  three years before, for an appropriate response to the matter. At times the complexitiesinvolved seemed overwhelming. By mid-summer, a lower court decision that vicarious liability was attributable to both thefederal government and the United Church was handed down. In July, the church would begin a threestage appeal of the Mr. Justice Brenner’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Moderator,The Right Reverend Bill Phipps, wrote a letter to all congregations of the United Church outlining thereasons for the appeal and how the decision was reached “The General Council Executive concludedthat the appeal will expose errors in law as well as keep the door open for more comprehensivenegotiations with the Federal Government to settle the plaintiffs’ claims earlier and more justly.”   In4the meantime, plaintiffs in the original Alberni Indian Residential School (Blackwater v Plint) trialwhich had been decided in their favour in 1995, waited in vain for any sign of an apology orcompensation from either the United Church of Canada or the Federal Government for events thattook place at the school thirty years before.  The United Church of Canada. The Manual, 1998. 31  Edition (no place: United Church5 stPublishing House, 1998) p. 36In addition to the agonized waiting of the plaintiffs and their families in British Columbia,many still living in the Alberni Valley, the wait was especially painful for a dedicated group of peoplefrom St Andrew’s United Church in Port Alberni, who had worked patiently and unceasingly overmuch of the previous two years to bring about a formal apology from the United Church of Canadafor its participation in the residential school system as a necessary first step in the healing processbetween the church and First Nations people. The ambiguities, contradictions, and painful paradoxes of the time are perhaps best illustratedby the words contained in the introduction to the 31  edition of The [United Church] Manual, whichstcoincidentally came out in that turbulent year of 1998.  An updated edition of The Manual ispublished following each meeting of General Council of the United Church, (usually once every twoyears) in response to changes in process and polity that have come about from the denomination’sdeliberations and decisions at that meeting.  The introductory statements in the 1998 edition remindus our lives together, like The Manual,  must always be considered a “living, working document,” awork in progress. Members of the United Church share a common belief that God’s will for the church iscontinually being revealed, and that the church must therefore be ‘always reformed.’...Contingencies that were not foreseen now need to be addressed. Sometimes agreementcannot be achieved on the wisest way of dealing with a contingency. So The Manualcontinues to be a document of compromise. One ought not, therefore, to be surprised thatambiguities remain, sometimes intentional...It must always be remembered that, in aconciliar church such as ours, freedom and responsibility under law are not only are partof our heritage but also place inescapable demands on every member of the church.   5These statements make a fundamental point about our illusions and strivings for human,theological or practical perfection; about our hopes, fears and even our despair at the heart of ourquest for faith-filled integrity in our actions as individuals and as a denomination.In our common understanding, God’s will for the church is not only continually being7revealed, it is continually being re-interpreted according to our particular understanding and theneeds and circumstances of our particular age. Sometimes there are indeed “ambiguities,” andsometimes it is these ambiguities that threaten to overwhelm the institution itself, or at least tocause what threatens to become an irreconcilable rupture in the body of the church. For theUnited Church, some of these ambiguities have come to light within our denomination as westruggled with the debate over full inclusion in the body of Christ for people of all sexualorientations, which in effect opened the way for the ordination of openly gay clergy. The issue ofsame-sex unions and marriages has provided another opportunity for us to listen for the Spirit toattempt to discern God’s will for the community and the whole people of God. There are other times when the ambiguities around discerning God’s will for the churchof today result from our re-evaluation of our participation in the mission of the gospel accordingto the theological, cultural and political climate of another era. Within this category we couldinclude the establishment of mission hospitals, overseas missions, and the complex issue of ourparticipation in the “Indian” Residential School system. In its time, each of these endeavours wasan attempt by a denomination to faithfully live out its gospel commitment to care for the poor, toheal and to educate. Through the many deep and at times painful re-examinations of thesemissions, it is both humbling and refreshing to note that we do not expect now, nor at any time inthe future, to approach infallibility in determining God’s will. At best, we can strive to bringabout, for our time, a compromise that maintains as much of the integrity of our faith as ourhuman fallibility and the frailties of our institutions can sustain. As Terry Whyte, a retired minister and former residential school worker says at the end ofa statement included in a letter to then Moderator of the United Church of Canada, The RightReverend Bill Phipps in August of 1998: Church history includes many examples of ‘charity/love gone wrong,’ ‘purity gonewrong,’ ‘stewardship gone wrong.’  To rededicate ourselves as faithful followers ofJesus is surely the most appropriate response to our history as ‘Canadian imperialists’ - to rededicate ourselves to a life-encompassing commitment to health, wholeness, Terry Whyte. A Contribution to the Indian Residential School discussion at St Andrew’s6United Church, Port Alberni, BC. (7 June, 1996) The United Church of Canada is governed by a four ‘court’ system, Pastoral Charge,7Presbytery, Conference and General Council. See Appendix I for a slightly enlarged discussion ofthis system. “Originally, it was felt that National Office should get our approval before releasing any8information in regards to issues around the Residential School, however, it was decided to askthe National Office to just inform us of press releases prior to the release so that [Reverend]Kathy [Hogman] can be prepared for any inquiries she may get.” Minutes of the Official Board,St Andrew’s United Church, Port Alberni, BC. December 19, 1995.8salvation. Then to get to work; with humility, for we are surely no wiser or morededicated than those who have gone before.6This history is an attempt to chronicle the historic “Apology From St. Andrew’s UnitedChurch [Port Alberni, BC] to First Nations Peoples for Harm Caused by “Indian” ResidentialSchools,” and the political and theological fall-out experienced during that journey towardsrededication by the congregation and the United Church of Canada. BackgroundOn March 25, 1995, Arthur Plint, a former dormitory supervisor at the United Church-runAlberni Indian Residential School (AIRS), was convicted of physical and sexual abuse ofstudents at the school in the 1960s, and received a sentence of eleven years in jail. Immediatelyfollowing the conviction, the General Council of the United Church, and especially BCConference,  gave several press releases around the AIRS trial and conviction which put the7ministers and congregations of local United Churches (Vancouver Island, and especially, PortAlberni) in the unenviable position of having to answer questions about “official” United Churchstatements about AIRS for which they were neither responsible nor forewarned.   8For some, this additional slight from a seemingly unresponsive national denomination was the final prompting they required to start an initiative of their own. “The trial had been wellcovered in both the local and the broader press, and some of the [St Andrew’s] congregation who Personal interview, Mike Lewis, Port Alberni, 18 September, 2006.9 Personal group interview with former members of St Andrew’s United Church, Port10Alberni, 22 October, 2006. See Appendix XI for names of attendees. 11 Personal group interview with former members of St Andrew’s United Church, Port12Alberni, 22 October, 2006.9had long standing relationships with aboriginal people felt the need to come to terms with dealingwith the implications of the United Church’s part in the AIRS. There was anger and questionsfrom the First Nations community about what had happened.”   For others in the congregation the9publicity had made them aware for the first time of their own disconnect from a community withwhom they were so closely linked. Ten years later, some members of that original group can stillrecall their shock, horror, and sense of incredulity about what had happened in their own backyardunder the auspices of the United Church without their knowledge.  Some felt that they had beenliving “with their heads in the sand” and felt a sincere need to educate themselves about the realityof residential schools.10In January of 1996, with the approval of the congregation’s Session,  a group of thirty-seven concerned members of St Andrew’s United Church in Port Alberni, BC, gathered to begin aprocess of study and discernment to educate themselves about the residential school system andthe experiences of former students at the United Church-run Alberni Indian Residential School,and to work towards some sort of a response.   The group was not without appreciation of the11risks involved. First, the delicacy with which they would need to proceed in reaching out to FirstNations people who were so badly wounded and possibly resentful of what they believed theUnited Church had done in the past, and was or was not doing in the present, and second, because of the potential for a further lawsuit following the Plint conviction of 1995. Still,Bernadette Wyton recalls that “there was an incredible amount of positive energy at the time,there was energy to work and a huge attempt to move ahead.”1210There was indeed a huge amount of positive energy, and every ounce of it would beneeded. An average of twenty-two members of that original group persevered through oftenmonthly meetings over the course of the next seventeen months, leading ultimately to a formalapology feast put on by the congregation of St Andrew’s United Church at the Maht Mahs hall,the gym of the former Alberni residential school. The feast was attended by around seven hundredinvited guests and dignitaries. The large number of members who made the commitment to followthrough with the long process of study, discernment, consultation and more consultation, and thenthe task of organizing the apology feast, with all the attendant planning and  protocol, gives someperspective on the dedication and care that went into the larger project of apology andreconciliation, and the dedication to consultation with and learning from the First Nations people.The journey was both a labour of love and a statement of faith. It helped that many personal relationships already existed between members of the groupand aboriginal people in the community. For instance, Mike Lewis had been Executive Director ofthe Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council in 1973, when he, along with other NTC staff membersNelson Keitlah and Roy Haiyupis had overseen the closing of the AIRS. At that time they had alsofaced opposition, from the Director General and principal of the school, John Andrews, whoargued there were no options other than to continue the school for the sake of the remainingstudents. Their personal interviews of family members, parents and grandparents of every studentstill attending AIRS provided the necessary documentation to convince the Department of IndianAffairs in Ottawa to close the school. In 1996, both Mike and Nelson were active members of StAndrew’s United, and Nelson was co-chair of the NTC. Other members of the St Andrew’s group,such as Terry and Shirley Whyte, had longstanding friendships with native people and had theadded experience of working in residential schools, though not in Alberni. Others were eager tolearn. The first meeting to introduce the topic of residential school issues began innocentlySee Appendix XI for list of attendees.13 Message to Pastoral Charges and Special Ministries in BC Conference Presbytery14Chairs and Secretaries from Brian Thorpe, United Church of Canada, British ColumbiaConference, 200-1955 West 4   Avenue, Vancouver, BC. February 6, 1996.th11enough. The announcement in the weekly church bulletin gives a flavour of what might lie aheadfor the congregation of St Andrew’s.The Christian Education Committee is organizing a gathering to educate ourselvesaround issues involved in Residential Schools. Although we as a congregation had nodirect involvement in residential schools we feel a need to learn more about it. Thisinformal gathering will take place - Tuesday, January 23  at 7:30 p.m. in the lounge.rdAdvanced reading is available from Kathy [Hogman, minister].  96/01/07 Bulletin StAndrew’s UCThirty-seven people from the small congregation were moved to attend.  The second13monthly gathering, in February of 1996, featured speakers from the United Church of Canada.BC Conference Minister Reverend Keith Howard, Communications, Global and SocietalConcerns; Gaye Sharpe; and John Siebert, General Council staff member for aboriginal affairs allattended and shared their own experiences with residential school issues, and presented theperspective of the United Church of Canada. A recent development in the ongoing legal actionstemming from the Plint convictions made this meeting especially important. On January 31,1996, the United Church was named, along with others including the federal government, asdefendants “in a group action suit... being brought by some of the students allegedly abused byMr. Plint.”  While the charges had immediate legal ramifications in terms of discussion of14liability, the church, its member pastoral charges, presbyteries, and special groups were notprecluded from engaging in discussion and healing and reconciling work together with FirstNations. In fact, at least from the perspective of BC Conference, this task was to be encouraged,rather than discouraged. This does not mean that we are unable to talk about the general issue of residential Message to Pastoral Charges and Special Ministries in BC Conference Presbytery15Chairs and Secretaries from Brian Thorpe, United Church of Canada, British ColumbiaConference, 200-1955 West 4   Avenue, Vancouver, BC. February 6, Towards a BC Conference Response to Residential Schools, Wednesday, February 14 ,16 th1:30-4:00pm, BC Conference Office, Board Room, 19955 West 4  Avenue [Vancouver].th12schools, the role of the United Church and the initiatives for healing and justice currentlyunderway in First Nations communities. At our 1995 General Meeting ...BritishColumbia Conference...[was] asked to ‘listen to our stories (those of First Nationspeoples), acknowledge that spiritual, mental, physical and emotional abuse occurred aspart of the Residential Schools, acknowledge that healing has begun, and participate inprayer and support.’...It is most important that we do not allow the existence of a lawsuitto deter us from the important ministry of listening and of presence to which we arebeing called...If we are willing to take the risk, we might be able to encounter FirstNations peoples and listen to their stories from a position of humility and trust in therealm of justice and reconciliation to which our God calls us.  15While the church was urging caution on one front, it was reaching out with encouragement fromanother. Since 1993 the United Church had established funds for healing projects in First Nationscommunities related to the Residential Schools legacy, and in 1994, the General Council initiatedThe Healing Fund with a goal of one million dollars. In addition to the work urged uponindividual members and congregations, BC Conference also met in February of 1996 to developa “BC Conference Response to Residential Schools,” that would identify goals, process,responses and strategies for healing and reconciliation work with regards to Residential Schoolissues. Reverend Kathy Hogman from St Andrew’s would be one of the participants in theConference team.  16By February, 1996, too, it was already becoming clear to the congregational study groupthat the church needed to apologize for its part in the residential schools. Confessional prayerplays a part in the Reformed Protestant liturgical tradition to which the United Church belongs,and previous apologies on behalf of the United Church of Canada had been offered in specificinstances, such as the 1986 Apology to First Nations people. However, the difficulties around a de Gruchy, John W., Reconciliation: Restoring Justice.(Minneapolis: Fortress Press,172002) p. 107  de Gruchy, John W., Reconciliation: Restoring Justice, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,182002), p. 152 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. Attached by Keith Howard to19the email copy of “The Moderator’s Letter re: Residential School Trial”, Thursday, July 2, 1998.13specific apology for the United Church’s part in the residential schools system had become morecomplex with the legal realities of the new lawsuit. Such an apology would, of necessity, “namespecific sins”  which could have serious legal consequences while the church was still deeply17involved in litigation. In April, 1996, several members of the “Native Community” were invited to “share theirthoughts and experiences” with the study and discernment group. Charlie and Maude Thompsonwere two of the First Nations guests who shared their experiences at residential school. Thiscritical engagement signaled the beginning of a new and deeper phase of learning process. The process of reconciliation begins through the taking of what might appear to be smalland often tentative steps such as meeting and listening to the estranged ‘other’. But it is acritical first step involving both parties...Are we going to regard the ‘other’ as aconversation partner, a fellow human being struggling with us to find a way beyond theimpasse in which opposing claims are countered in an endless cycle thus the ‘other’makes an ethical demand on us, challenging not only our claims but also our self-understanding and identity. Who do we think we are, and what are we trying tobecome?...If there is the will to pursue the conversation for the sake of reconciliation, wewill not presume to know the ‘other’, but be willing to come to know.18Certainly the group from St Andrew’s continued to be willing to come to know; to challengethemselves and their own self-understanding and identity, and with knowledge, prayer, anddiscernment, to act. As Bonhoeffer discovered, to act is to discover who we are, and what we aretrying to become.  19In May, 1996, BC Conference of the United Church held their Annual Meeting inQualicum Beach. Marion Best, then Moderator of the United Church of Canada, and Virginia Telephone interview with Marion Best, 2 November, 20062014Coleman, then General Secretary, who were in attendance at the Conference meeting, wereinvited to meet with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council while they were in the area. JohnSiebert from General Council staff would also attend. The Moderator and General Secretary alsoexpressed an interest in meeting with the congregation of St Andrew’s during their visit to PortAlberni, and all interested people were welcomed to attend. On May 2 , members met with thendguests at lunch.At the May, 1996 meeting with the Moderator and General Secretary, representatives ofthe Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council (NTC) and community members; Nelson Keitlah, CharlieThompson, Ron Hamilton, Dan Watts and Richard Watts discussed the need for an apology fromthe United Church. They asked for both a general apology for residential schools, and specificapologies accepting responsibility for the harms done at the AIRS. The Moderator was in adifficult position. While she and other guests were deeply moved, as Moderator, Marion Best hadto tell the men that, while she could apologize personally for what had happened at residentialschools, she was unable to officially apologize for the United Church of Canada. She laterdescribed that time as probably the most painful part of the meeting. There was a lot of pressureon the Moderator to apologize for the church, but within the polity and governance of the UnitedChurch of Canada, the decision was not hers to make. Such a decision would have to come fromGeneral Council or its Executive and then be passed on to her to deliver.  There was a lot ofnegative feeling at the meeting when the Moderator said that she could not apologize for thechurch.  Many people did not understand that the Moderator does not have the authority or20autonomy to make decisions on her own and felt that the church was just avoiding the issue ofresponsibility.The next notice in the congregational bulletin highlighted the frustration over the Notes from Terry Whyte’s notebook, Section I, Our Meetings.2115difficulties and roadblocks that continued to arise. Residential School Discussion...continuesThursday, May 23 (‘96) at 7:30 p.m. Topic: “Where do we go from here?” There was a strongsentiment at the meeting that the process of working towards an apology was too tentative andtoo slow. The discussion was far ranging. Was more study in order, or was it time to take action?What should this action consist of? Reparations? Should the word “apology” be used? How toacknowledge wrong? One attendee suggested that “we need to apologize for having had to bepushed so hard to take action and make reparation.” Some spoke of “looking forward tosomething better” [in terms of relationships present and future].21Regardless of the sense of frustration over the feasibility of offering a comprehensiveapology not just from St Andrew’s, but from the entire United Church of Canada, thecongregational group was not resting on its laurels. The apology was only part of a larger pictureof acts of solidarity and justice-making engaged in by the congregation of St Andrew’s. Late inMay of 1996, the congregation sent a petition to then Minister of Indian Affairs, The HonourableRon Irwin, with regard to resources for healing from residential schools:We are a group of non-natives who are deeply concerned because the healing of thosenative people who lived in Indian Residential Schools and/or whose parents orgrandparents lived in Indian Residential Schools is such a complex and difficult process.We know that the psychological damage done was very deep, and is causing great painand suffering, and that the path to recovery costs a lot of money.Because the people and government of Canada imposed the Residential Schools systemon native peoples we urge you to do everything in your power to make adequate andgenerous resources available to this healing process, a process which supports thesurvivors of the residences who are struggling to achieve healthy minds and spirits.We, the undersigned members and adherents of St Andrew’s United Church, PortAlberni, urge you to support these people with financial assistance for counselling andgroup therapy. Petition to Minister of Indian Affairs, The Honourable Ron Irwin, May 1996.22 Notes from Terry Whyte’s notebook, Section I, Our Meetings2316We also urge you and the Government of Canada to acknowledge publicly that thelegacy of the residential school system involves problems of both personal andcommunity dimensions that need to be addressed by healing processes. The petition was signed by over thirty members and adherents of the congregation.22By June, 1996, the movement toward action on an apology had coalesced. ResidentialSchool Discussion - “Making a Statement,” was the heading of the next meeting. Statementswritten by Jack Thornburgh and Terry Whyte were circulated and a decision to begin framing adraft apology was made. Bernadette Wyton and Jack Thornburgh would consult on the wording,then consultation with Nelson Keitlah and others from the First Nations community would takeplace. The draft would go back to the group for further tinkering, and finally, the draft would goto the congregation for final approval. A discussion of Terry Whyte’s statement was scheduledfor later in the month.  23Terry’s statement “a contribution to the Indian Residential School discussion at StAndrew’s United Church, Port Alberni, BC,” coming as it did from someone who had spent timeworking in residential schools, and who had also written a history of one of those schools, carriedboth moral and theological weight. In his statement, which he later sent to the Right ReverendBill Phipps, Moderator of the United Church of Canada, Terry referred to the culturallydestructive arrival of European settlers, the epidemics and devastation of alcohol, the loss offreedom of movement and the various responses by the churches and government over thegenerations to the plight of the native populations now reduced to poverty, sickness anddesperation; including cultural assimilation and the Indian Residential Schools system. But themain thrust of his contribution was that the church of today desperately needed to rededicateitself “as faithful followers of Jesus [to] health, wholeness, and salvation.”  Terry Whyte. A Contribution to the Indian Residential School discussion at St24Andrew’s United Church, Port Alberni, BC. (7 June, 1996) Copy of petitions in Terry Whyte’s notebook, Section II, The St A Apology 2517Some of the newcomers thought they could help...Some thought education was theanswer...some thought the eradication of Native culture, including language and uniqueexpressions of world-view...The mix, desperate plight and the deep sense of culturalsuperiority, resulted in component...was clearly the Indian ResidentialSchool experience....Church history includes many examples of ‘charity/love gonewrong’... To rededicate ourselves as faithful followers of Jesus is surely the mostappropriate response to our history as ‘Canadian imperialists’ - to rededicate ourselves toa life-encompassing commitment to health, wholeness, salvation. Then to get to work;with humility, for we are surely no wiser or more dedicated than those who have gonebefore.24On Tuesday, June 25, 1996, a draft statement of an apology from “St Andrew’s UnitedChurch to First Nations Peoples for Harm Caused by Residential Schools” was ready. However,it would be seven months before the next full discussion and consultation of the draft statementtook place. Meanwhile, the congregation of St Andrew’s continued its work on other projects andsocial justice work, including a petition to the British Columbia Legislative Assembly’s SelectStanding Committee on Aboriginal Affairs hearing held in Port Alberni on Thursday, October17, 1996. The petition encouraged the provincial government to continue with the treatynegotiation process. “We...want the Standing Committee to know that we believe that the land ofBC has to be obtained legally and fairly from the First Nations peoples...We affirm our belief in[the treaty] negotiation process and we want to express our appreciation to those who areworking with such perseverance to obtain fair and just treaties.”25General Council too, continued to be a presence in the discussions between First Nationsand the church on issues of healing. John Siebert traveled to Port Alberni again in September of1996 to “further discuss potential healing initiatives raised by Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council Memorandum from John Siebert, General Council staff, Division of Mission in Canada,26to Kathy Hogman  et al, 1  October Ibid.27 Ibid.2818(NTC) leaders and community members during the 2 May 1996 meeting at the NTC offices.”26The members of the NTC who met with him expressed “the necessity of the United Church notdictating the process or the outcome [of healing initiatives], but working cooperatively wherethat was requested. There was also a need to respect and not interfere in the discussions betweenpolitical leaders in the NTC and those offering leadership in these healing initiatives.”  Siebert27also referred to the encouraging and ongoing work of “the people of St Andrew’s in respondingto their neighbours in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth territory in which they live.”  It is clear from the28level of consultation and discussion that reconciliation and healing work on residential schoolissues continued to be of importance to the whole of the United Church, although the main focuswould continue to develop more at local and regional levels, rather than from General CouncilDivision of Mission staff. Back at St Andrew’s, work on the apology had not been forgotten. On January 24, 1997,eight guests from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nation: Richard Watts, Nelson Keitlah, RonHamilton, Cliff Atleo, Charlie Thompson, Marie Rush, Delores Seitcher, and Geraldine Allworkjoined sixteen members of  the congregational “committee” in the sanctuary of St Andrew’sUnited Church for a discussion of the draft form of the apology and to give feedback. All of theguests had some personal knowledge and understanding of residential schools, though not all hadbeen students at AIRS. This meeting was a pivotal one in cementing St Andrew’s’ decision toformally present the apology to the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nation. Ron Hamilton had notoriginally been invited to the meeting because of some of his outspoken critique of the idea of anapology, but attended at his own initiative. Ron was a respected and formidable leader, whose Terry Whyte. Letter to Moderator the Right Reverend Bill Phipps, 6 September, 1998.29 See Appendix III for the text of the Draft Apology30 Nelson Keitlah, “We need to hear, ‘We’re sure sorry, we did wrong’ from high offices.”31Meeting at St Andrew’s United Church, January 24, 1997. Richard Watts, meeting at St Andrew’s United Church, January 24, 1997.32 Cliff Atleo, meeting at St Andrew’s United Church, January 24, 1997.3319long experience with residential school issues included writing, Indian Residential Schools: TheNuu-Chah-Nulth Experience, and conducting the research for the vicarious liability trial in regardto the AIRS, as well as conducting many public meetings and interviews on residential schoolissues.   After Reverend Kathy Hogman spoke about the lengthy process of learning and29discernment that the “committee” had gone through and read the draft apology,  comments were30made by the eight guests. While appreciation was expressed for the work of the local congregation, the formerstudents and survivors of the residential school were still “looking at the church at large” and theliability of the federal government. There was a strong desire by the guests to hear an apologyfrom “high offices.”  “We need to increase the pressure on the federal government and we can31work together on this.”  “There is no question of the responsibility of the Federal Government.32There is also no question of the church’s involvement in this.”  There were various expressions33of sadness that the apology and reaching out to the First Nations had come so late. Thedevastating consequences of the separation of children from their families and communities, theresulting deprivation of the love of parents  and grandparents, the unnecessary suffering, some ofit from the abuses that had taken place at AIRS, and the toll it had taken on generations of FirstNations were still painfully evident. The effects of the residential schools system and inparticular the abuses that had occurred continued to result in “horrendous” losses in the First Marie Rush, worker with Residential School Survivors. Meeting at St Andrew’s United34Church, January 24, 1997.  Marie Rush, meeting at St Andrew’s, January 24, 1997.35 Delores Seitcher, meeting at St Andrew’s United Church, January 24, 1997.36 Ron Hamilton, meeting at St Andrew’s United Church, 24 January, 1997.3720Nations communities.   The loss of parenting skills as well as the loss of language and culture,34the anger and pain that continued to manifest itself in alcoholism, neglect and abuse within FirstNations families and communities were all referred to by the various guests. Although theyexpressed the difficulty of being present at St Andrew’s, sitting in the church with representativesof the people who had run the Residential Schools, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth women spoke of theirdesire to seek a better future for their children and grandchildren, “seeing that the futuregeneration has a healthier life, with compassion and gentleness.”  Another said, “I want to clear35the way for my grandchildren, so they don’t have to walk through the pain I walked through. Iknow I can’t take it out on people who are trying to help us today.  I want to give you mygratitude for being here today and doing what you are doing.”36Despite their obvious sadness over the ongoing dysfunction in the First Nationscommunities at least partially attributable to the residential school system, and AIRS inparticular, the overwhelming sense from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth guests was one of gratitude for thesincere and faithful work that the congregation had put into the apology. The importance ofpersonal relationships between members of the congregation and First Nations people wasemphasized as one of the reasons for the high level of trust that was able to be achieved at themeeting. Ron Hamilton, who had come to the meeting unannounced, spoke words ofreconciliation and hope. First he spoke to the breach in protocol that occurred by his attendanceat a meeting to which he was not specifically invited. “I hope I don’t offend those who did notwant me to come. I’m a man of faith and I operate on hope.”  He spoke about the present, as37Ron Hamilton, meeting at St Andrew’s United Church, 24 January, 1997.38 Cliff Atleo, meeting at St Andrew’s United Church, 24 January, 1997.39 Cliff Atleo, St Andrew’s, 24 January, 1997.40 All quotations from notes from a meeting held 24 January, 1997 at St Andrew’s United41Church, Port Alberni. From the personal binder of Terry Whyte, Section I, Our Meetings.Transcribed to a typed copy by him from notes taken at the meeting. Notes from Terry Whyte’s binder on meeting 24 January, 1997, St Andrew’s.4221well as the past. “It is important to stress that the damage is continuing.”  The nature of the manypersonal relationships between people was highlighted by Ron’s reference to the work of JoanJacobson, a member of the group in whom he had great faith as a “good and moral person.” “Youwho put this together really have something to be proud of. You are the good moral people I havebeen looking for. It means very much to me. I’m proud to have you as my neighbours.”  One of38the former students said, “This apology says all the things I want to hear as a survivor of IndianResidential Schools. I hope this apology goes all the way to the General Council. This is animportant small step.”  Another said it was a “strong step” and was “going to be acceptable.”39 40However, the move from an apology to following up with action that would benefit First Nationswould be the true test of the sincerity of the church.41The congregational “committee” had been apprehensive about the meeting, and what theFirst Nations guests might have to say about the apology. Ron Hamilton had to leave the meetingearly. “Before he left Bernadette [Wyton], of St. Andrew’s, said: ‘We feel weak and vulnerable,and if we are stepped on we are sensitive; and that’s why we were afraid of you. Your responsehas been unbelievable. Thanks for coming.’ Cliff Atleo said later that it was good that Ron came,because if we wanted feedback on the wording of the Apology we should ‘put it to the toughestcomment.’”42After this exhausting, draining, but ultimately exhilarating meeting, the group called for a Minutes of Congregational Meeting, St Andrew’s United Church, 4574 Elizabeth St.,43Port Alberni, BC V9Y 6L6, February 2, 1997 - Terry Whyte, secretary.22full Congregational Meeting to be held February 2, 1997 to present the now further fine-tuneddraft of ‘An Apology from St Andrew’s United Church to First Nations Peoples for HarmCaused by “Indian” Residential Schools’ to the congregation. Sixty-six people attended. Themeeting lasted a mere forty-five minutes, including a history of the apology to date andcomments from attendees. “The congregation was asked how it wanted to deal with thedraft...Several people spoke of the relationship of the United Church with the Indian ResidentialSchools, noting their personal experiences. Luke Atleo, of Ahousaht, [a Nuu-Chah-Nulth villagenorth of Tofino] who was present with this mother, spoke at some length.” Following thespeakers, a motion was put forward “that the “Apology...” as distributed be presented to the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council and to Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery.” The motion was carriedunanimously.  43From here the process which seemed to have so much momentum began to encounteropposition, particularly from General Council. Almost immediately that they were informed of StAndrew’s intent to actually go through with a formal apology, General Council staff andExecutive members began weighing in with serious concerns around financial implications andliability for the church, particularly in light of ongoing litigation and the judgement on vicariousliability still extant in the AIRS trial. General Council Executive, their staff, and their legalcouncil were fairly unanimous in their belief that any apology, whether from an individualcongregation, or from the larger body of the United Church of Canada, could have serious legaland financial implications that would have the potential to bankrupt the church. The apprehension on the part of General Council Executive members and staff was notwithout genuine merit. In 1997 the church was still waiting for a decision on vicarious liabilityfrom Justice Brenner pertaining to the original Plint conviction, and was deeply concerned that Personal email from Very Reverend Bob Smith, former Moderator of the United44Church of Canada, 26 October, 2006 Bavelas, Janet, Centre for Christian Studies in Religion and Society, University of45Victoria, Occasional Paper No. 1 An Analysis of Formal Apologies by Canadian Churches toFirst Nations (University of Victoria, July 2004), p.2823an apology which did not name the Federal government as at least as fully responsible as thechurch for the administration and running of the school would leave the church vulnerable tosettlement payments that could bankrupt the denomination. The United Church of Canada couldbe decimated by the costs, requiring the denomination to sell off all its assets, including churchesand manses in First Nations villages, and particularly damaging, to sell off church buildings likeFirst United in Vancouver, [and the Stella Mission in Winnipeg and the Fred Victor mission inToronto] where a large part of the social ministry outreach was to urban First Nations people.  It44was feared any perceived acceptance of responsibility from the United Church, such as anapology, against the advice of the lawyers, could be taken by the church’s insurers as reason towalk away from any insurance claims which would leave the denomination without the resourcesit would need to compensate aboriginal claimants and plaintiffs for damages suffered at theschools.  The legal and theological complexities were enormous, and deeply divisive for allconcerned. The United Church and its Executive and legal counsel were not alone in their analysis ofthe situation. Janet Bevalis, in her occasional paper on “Formal Apologies by Canadian Churchesto First Nations,” writes, “when I looked for the pressures facing the churches who wouldapologize, I found a surprising number. Crucial among these was the potential for legal liability,which truly put officials “between a rock and a hard place.”  I came to believe that, for the mostpart, the churches overcame the other obstacles, but could not solve the legal one.”  45As former moderator, the Very Reverend Bob Smith said, I was deeply involved during that long struggle to say the “Apology” word, in two ways; Personal email from Very Reverend Bob Smith, former Moderator of the United46Church of Canada 26 October, 2006. email to Terry Whyte from John Siebert, General Council Staff, 27 February, 1997.47 email from John Siebert, Terry Whyte’s binder, Section II, St A Apology4824first, as a person from British Columbia who shared the conviction that it was absolutelyessential if there was going to be healing; and second, as someone with a clearunderstanding of the dilemma of those in leadership at a national level. Along with BrianThorpe [United Church liaison for Residential Schools], who was in the same place Iwas, we spent our time in Toronto arguing that the church had no choice but to apologize- regardless of the cost, and our time here in BC reminding the eager-beavers here thatthere were sound reasons not to jeopardize the institution...  46Others at the General Council level had no such ambivalence. An apology would be follyat best, total financial disaster at worst. Letters, email correspondence, and telephoneconversations flew from General Council to the minister and congregation of St Andrew’s as thearrangements between St Andrew’s and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth proceeded towards a formalpresentation of the apology. On the 27  of February, 1997, John Siebert, General Council staff member responsiblethfor aboriginal issues, sent an email to Terry Whyte indicating his sincere and emphaticreservations about the formal presentation of the apology in its congregationally approved form.For Siebert, there was no doubt that without specific reference to the predominant role of thefederal government in the administration and responsibility for the residential schools, there wasa very strong likelihood that the apology could be “interpreted legally to be accepting fullresponsibility and blame for what took place in residential schools, the federal government coulduse this to absolve itself legally of its responsibilities to participate in settlements and healingstrategies.”  While Siebert acknowledged that it “may appear institutionally self-serving and47damaging to the relational work with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth for the United Church to keeppressing on the federal government role, it is very practical and very necessary.”  The48 email to Terry Whyte from John Siebert, General Council Staff, 27 February, 1997.49  Ibid.50 Ibid.51 See Appendix IV for full text of the email from John Siebert dated 27 February , 1997.5225unmistakable message was that the resulting damage from the congregation’s proposed action onthe apology would be “a tragedy first and foremost for First Nations people”  resulting in the49loss of their ability to obtain “redress” from the federal government, with its far greater ability topay such compensation than any church. While acknowledging that the idea of an apology was,ironically, like the residential schools themselves, done with good (albeit misguided) intentions,it might also net similar “tragic results.” It might indeed satisfy “some voices among the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council and other First Nations to have this or any apology from the UnitedChurch,”  but in the end Siebert was forced to strongly advise against any action that might have50the result of doing “the very opposite of what you intended in the longer time frame.”  He called51the plan “bad moral reasoning and bad strategy for First Nation financial reasons.” Siebert’squalifications in terms of his “number of years of very patient and diligent work on the nationalscene” were undisputed, however, his latest reasoning and rationale were not. 52For one thing, the connection between the federal government’s case on the charges ofvicarious liability over the residential schools issue and the various legal arguments were wellunderstood and accepted by the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council. The United Church, includingthe St Andrew’s congregation, were seen as strong allies in maintaining pressure on the federalgovernment. However, the argument that a church apology would endanger those negotiations ormake First Nations relinquish their quest for justice from the federal government was seen bysome in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council as condescending in its implication that the UnitedChurch of Canada did not respect the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people and other First Nations as agents Richard Watts, meeting at St Andrew’s United Church, 24 January, 1997.53 Caption under photo of protestors. Dididaht protest in quiet dignity - By Karen Beck,54Staff Reporter Alberni Valley Times, Wednesday, 7th May , 1997, page 126fully capable of putting legal pressure on the federal government on their own behalf. As RichardWatts had reiterated at the consultation meeting in January 1997, there was a strong need forFirst Nations and the church to work collaboratively to “increase the pressure on the federalgovernment”  to accept responsibility and financial liability for its role in the residential school53system. Others among the Nuu-Chah-Nulth concurred with Siebert’s reasoning. At the apologyfeast in May 1997, Elected Chief Jack Thompson and some other members of the Ditidaht FirstNation, one of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council bands, refused to accept the apologypresented by the congregation. Among the many reasons they gave was that they would not“acknowledge any apologies until they’re accompanied by a formal and fitting apology from theprovincial and federal government.”54Beyond the possible legal consequences, the ethical implications of the perceivedwillingness of some at General Council to risk destroying the relationships of trust that had builtup between the people at St Andrew’s and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth and other First Nations people incounseling St Andrew’s not to go through with the apology was quite another matter. For many itwas a difficult pill to swallow and began to affect perceptions about General Council’scommitment to the theological and moral integrity of their previous apology to First Nationspeople and the potential for any future apology addressing the legacy of the “Indian” residentialschools. The St Andrew’s congregation also recognized that the inability to apologize can anddoes have “negative consequences for personal well-being, but also with regard to moral values De Gruchy, John W., Reconciliation: Restoring Justice.(Minneapolis: Fortress Press,552002) p. 106-7 Reverend Kathy Hogman, Telephone conversation, 13 September, 2006. 5627and social responsibility,”  values both they and the United Church of Canada as a denomination55espoused.In the meantime, while the original impetus for an apology was, and continued to be, alay-led grass-roots initiative,  the role of the minister in fielding much of the inevitable flak forthe apology continued to grow. Reverend Kathy Hogman remembers the increasing pressure,much of it directed towards her in her role as minister of the St Andrew’s congregation, as thetime for the apology feast neared.  It was Reverend Hogman who had so passionately pressed56the petition from the congregation on to Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery at its regular meeting inFebruary, 1997, in Parksville. From there the petition would go on, with concurrence, to themeeting of BC Conference on May 9   and 10 ,  where it would be relayed again withth thconcurrence, to the 36  Meeting of The General Council of the United Church in Camrose,thAlberta, in August of 1997. Those actions, coupled with the congregation’s ongoing insistencethat their own apology would proceed, made Kathy the principal and most visible political figurein the initiative. Members of St Andrew’s acknowledged the risks that she took, both withGeneral Council Executive,  by taking the lead in pushing for the apology, and by meeting withthe Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council as the “official spokesman” for the congregation. Neither Reverend Hogman nor the congregation were under any illusion as to the genuineconflicts the apology presented. There was, however, a growing conviction that the presentationof the formal apology was the only recourse for the congregation, and indeed, for the UnitedChurch of Canada for the sake of its theological integrity. “There can be no forgiveness...whereperpetrators, whether individuals or collective, lack the courage to disarm themselves in front of Geiko Muller-Fahrenholz, quoted in Vanier, Jean. Becoming Human, (Toronto: House57of Anansi Press, 1998) p.157 de Gruchy, John W., Reconciliation: Restoring Justice, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,582002) p. 106-728the victims. This is a painful and demanding act.”  As the length and depth of the process and57the care with which preparations for the St Andrew’s apology make clear, there continued to beboth personal and corporate struggle with the idea and the reality of the painful and demandingact of an apology for residential schools.The United Church, especially at the grassroots level, had learned much from itsinvolvement with the ecumenical movement, particularly Latin American Catholic liberationtheology. One gift of that relationship had been to begin to see that communal confessions of sin with regard to injustice and oppression require corporatepenitence and commitment to joint acts of reparation ... bringing confession back into thepublic domain in relation to the struggle for justice and reconciliation. In this way thepractice of the sacrament of penance has to do with social accountability, peace-making,reparations and the restoration of justice. It is also related to the need for the Churchitself to recognize its own guilt and accountability, and to fulfil its ministry ofreconciliation vicariously within the social and political arena.58To remain faithful to its own professed commitments to “social accountability, peace-making,reparations and the restoration of justice” the United Church needed to make a stand recognizingits own “guilt and accountability” in the matter of the residential school system, and the AIRS.The church’s struggle with previous apologies offered St Andrew’s the hope that a similarchange of heart would allow this congregational apology to proceed with the blessing of GeneralCouncil.  In March of 1997, Reverend Kathy Hogman received correspondence from CynthiaGunn, Legal/Judicial Counsel for the United Church of Canada, which indicated a slightsoftening of the previous hard line legal position. There had been a request from Nelson Keitlahto make a presentation of the St Andrew’s apology as it had appeared in the petition to General Cynthia Gunn59  Legal/Judicial Counsel for the United Church of Canada - original letterfrom Terry Whyte’s binder, Section II, The St A Apology29Council the previous summer, in the context of an upcoming Treaty negotiation meeting with theprovince of BC and the federal government to be held in Port Alberni. According to Ms. Gunn,such a presentation “could represent an important step for all on the healing path.” Although theGeneral Council was not yet ready to endorse the apology, or present its own apology forresidential schools, there was some latitude contained within the “autonomy of Congregationswithin [the] boundaries [between the “national” United Church and its congregations]. If the“distinction between St Andrew’s, as a congregation, and the United Church, as a whole,” wasclearly explicit, “particularly when the United Church is in the midst of lawsuits relating to theresidential Schools,” the apology had the potential to play a part in the reconciliation process sonecessary between the church and aboriginal people. Gunn concluded her letter on a gracious andpersonal note. “I enjoyed speaking with you a couple of weeks ago. I have heard much about theinitiative of your Congregation around residential school issues. The apology reflects a strongand urgent sense of justice, which is encouraging to those of us presently involved in theinstitutional legal process.”59It seems clear that even for the United Church’s own legal counsel, there was somelatitude in law in terms of liability implied in an apology given under the “autonomy” of acongregation and the same apology given on behalf of a “national” church. Janet Bavelas, in herstudy of formal and institutional apologies and their legal implications, and specifically,apologies from Canadian churches to aboriginal people has these comments on the subject:In the law, many believe that to take responsibility as part of an apology is to becomelegally liable (alter, 1999; Cohen, 1999; Taft, 2000.)...However, there is a small, recentliterature worth following up; Cohen (1999) provided an excellent review of the legalissues and possibilities, albeit in an American context. There seem to be voices withinthe legal and legislative communities speaking to the restorative function of an apology(for both parties) as well as to the moral and ethical issues raised by preventing anBavelas, Janet, Centre for Christian Studies in Religion and Society, University of60Victoria, Occasional Paper No. 1,  An Analysis of Formal Apologies by Canadian Churches toFirst Nations (University of Victoria, July 2004)30apology.” (Bavelas, 14)Another, more intriguing alternative is to question two key assumptions, first, that a fullapology will in fact establish or increase liability, and second, the corollary that avoidinga full apology will prevent or minimize liability. Regarding the first, which is thewidespread belief that to apologize is to concede liability and will lead to adverse legalconsequences, there is apparently very little Canadian case law even referring toapologies....the second assumption, that avoiding a full apology will prevent or minimize liability,is also worth questioning....Anecdotal evidence suggests that victims may sue preciselybecause they do not receive an apology. The courts then become their only option forconfirming the responsibility of the offender. In any case, the churches’ avoidance oftrue apologies, as analysed here, has not prevented litigation that is both extended andextremely costly...  (Bavelas, 15) One conclusion is that, in order to achieve the potentially restorative and reconcilingfunctions of an apology, we need to reconsider both our assumptions and our practicesregarding whether taking responsibility must always lead to increased liability. (Bavelas,Abstract)   60Testimony from some First Nations people who were part of the St Andrew’s apology,among others, tends to bear these conclusions out. According to Nelson Keitlah, the apologyfeast and the actions of the congregation, along with the response of many of the First Nationspeople who attended, proved beyond a doubt that money was less of an incentive for people thanthe opportunity to have their reality affirmed and to receive a heartfelt and honest apology. Thedesire for an apology was clearly not simply about money for the former students and their families. The feast and apology came atthe time of Treaty negotiations, the Healing Fund money, $500,000  was alreadyavailable from the [Federal] government, [as was close to $1,000,000 from the UnitedChurch Healing Fund, established after the 1986 United Church Apology]. It proved thatmoney was not the solution. The work of the church [has been] to go amongst us [FirstNations people in British Columbia]. [People had been] alienated from trust by theTreaty negotiations. [The apology and feast] were the spiritual way [to regain some of Nelson Keitlah, Telephone interview, 12 October, 2006.61 Nelson Keitlah, Telephone interview, 12 October, 2006.62 Sutherland, Jessie. Worldview Skills: Transforming Conflict from the Inside Out, (no63place: Worldview Strategies, 2005) p. 78 31the trust between peoples].61The ApologyEven as the General Council continued to press for caution, the congregation was movingforward with plans to present the apology. At first there was no particular plan to host a feast.The thought was that the apology would be presented to the Nuu-Chah-Nulth and formerstudents of AIRS at some suitable time. That is the way it got life... Right from thebeginning St Andrew’s was determined that it be an outright apology. [Nelson Keitlah]was one of the advisors. At first [the congregation] didn’t count on a feast, just a meetingand a presentation, St Andrew’s and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, quite formal. Of course it hasto be formal [there is certain protocol to be observed]. Of course it is [the Nuu-Chah-Nulth] tradition to have a feast. There is no term equivalent to the word “apology” in theNuu-Chah-Nulth language or tradition. When a wrong is done there is a feast - that iswhere it is [resolved].   62“Embedded in every culture and tradition are teachings that foster right action, peacefulcoexistence, and reconciliation. Tapping into those teachings, whether they are secular,humanistic values or spiritually based insights, inspires parties to live in alignment with theirhighest ideals.”   The decision to honour the Nuu-Chah-Nulth tradition by hosting a feast was an63important one for both the congregation and the Nuu-Chah-Nulth. In his essay on “Buber,Heschel, and the Future of Jewish Life,” Marc Ellis writes of the possibilities for renewalimplicit in tradition and “primal origins.” “Buber saw the particular and the universal as separateand connected with the strength of each particularity leading somehow to a community ofcommunities. Therefore each community plumbed its history and returned to its primal origins in Ellis, Marc H. Revolutionary Forgiveness: Essays on Judaism, Christianity and the64Future of Religious Life. (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2000)32order to reconstitute itself in the contemporary world.”  Both the congregation of St Andrew’s64and the First Nations people affected by the residential schools systems and other systemicinjustices within Canadian society were at the place in their separate and collective historieswhere the need to reconstitute themselves was crucial to the integrity of their existence. Clearly, for a feast, there was more work to be done,. There would be a need for moreconsultation on protocol, and practical preparation for a meal that would serve a large, but notexactly known number of guests, with no danger of running out of food. It was difficult to gaugehow many people might come. Five hundred, seven hundred, or more?  The venue of MahtMahs, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth community hall, located in the building that housed the gym of theformer Alberni residential school, was agreed upon, at the suggestion of the Nuu-Chah-NulthTribal Council. Gifts of framed copies of the Apology and other gifts were prepared, and therewas more consultation on protocol for gift giving. To whom, and how would gifts be distributed?It was decided that members of the congregation, couples, families and individuals would presentthe various gifts. Framed copies of the apology would be presented to the elected Chief of eachband. Gifts of blankets would also be given.  Three handwoven shawls to the three co-chairs ofthe NTC, and a gift of money [$3000] for the Nuu-Chah-Nulth language fund would also bepresented. Other gifts, large and small would be distributed.Then there was consideration over who should speak, and when. Nuu-Chah-Nulth eldersand chiefs would begin the speaking, with traditional prayers and territorial welcome. Thecongregation would acknowledge the welcome with gifts of blankets. Then an elder from StAndrew’s, Fred Bishop, would address the Chiefs, the Tribal Council, the former students andguests. At first the congregational group considered whether Fred should speak a few words ofgreeting in the Nuu-Chah-Nulth language as a sign of respect. On consultation with Nuu-Chah-33Nulth elders, however, they learned that the language had been almost lost to the Nuu-Chah-Nulth people and had been regained at much emotional cost from the few remaining elders whowere still fluent, and then also had to be reclaimed from the linguists who had come to study thelanguage. It was now considered to be too fragile and precious to be shared with others. Theongoing consultations on cultural sensitivity and protocol and the need for respect would becritical to the hoped for success. Work on the Agenda proceeded.  A history of the process leading up to the apologywould be given by various speakers from St Andrew’s. Then, the Reverend Kathy Hogman, asleader of the congregation, would present the actual apology itself, to show respect to the Chiefsand guests. In that capacity, Kathy would wear the full regalia of her position, robe and stole,something that she rarely (if ever) did for regular Sunday worship at St Andrew’s. Then therewould be a song by the St Andrew’s choir, presentation of the copies of the apology to each ofthe Nuu-Chah-Nulth nations and to a representative of former students who were from other FirstNations. Following those presentations, the meal would be served by the congregation to the FirstNations guests.A decision was made to have an open mike after the presentations and the food, adeparture from the strictly traditional approach which would see only specific Chiefs, elders andother honoured guests speak and in particular order of protocol.  Preparation of speeches, settingup of the venue, planning the meal, the food, and the serving protocol continued. While concernpersisted about whether guests at the feast would really accept the apology, even after all of theprior consultation and preparation, there was no hesitation to go ahead with the feast. In all cases,acceptance of the apology at the feast would be on an individual basis. Even the Chiefs whoagreed to accept the apology would accept it for themselves, not on behalf of others. One of theSt Andrew’s participants said later, “There is a difference between forgiveness and justice. Thereis a need to be willing to be vulnerable. [The congregation had to apologize] even if the outcome Group interview in Port Alberni with people involved in the apology, 22 October, 2006. 65 See Appendix V for the complete Agenda for the Apology 6634might not be in their favour [that the apology might not be accepted].65At last the time had come. The Chiefs and guests, including representatives from theUnited Church, had been invited. On Tuesday, May 6, 1997, the apology was presented at afeast.  Kathy Hogman, minister of St Andrew’s spoke these words to the assembled company: 66“We stand before you today to offer this apology from our hearts:An Apology From St. Andrew’s United ChurchTo First Nations People For Harm Caused By“Indian” Residential SchoolsWe wish to address the issue of the continuing damage caused by the former UnitedChurch “Indian” residential schools. We know this damage takes many forms.Emotional and psychological scarring, social deprivation, and undermining of familyand culture have all been identified as destructive elements of the racially segregatedschools. Without a doubt the schools were intended to facilitate assimilation. Thepractical effect was to alienate young people from their families and their culture,resulting in hopelessness,confusion, anger and self-hatred - all of which fire oppressive cycles including awhole range of personal and social abuses.Beyond the arrogance of assimilation there were the additional personaltragedies experienced by victims of physical and sexual abuse. The repercussionsof these tragedies continue to haunt not only the victims themselves but entirefamilies and communities.Some of the facts about “Indian” residential schools have become clear.In trying to come to terms with them we hereby acknowledge and confess thatmany wrongs were committed in the name of the United Church under thatsystem. We confess the past complicity of our church with the dominant culture ofthe day and with the federal government inperpetrating these injustices for so long. We acknowledge, as well, that thosedamages continue to transfer grief and violence into First Nations family, social,and cultural life. We of today’s United Church apologize for these things.We respect the integrity, strength, and hope nurtured by so many FirstNations people. In the same spirit, we recognize and celebrate the healing process that is already alive, bringing with it the reclamation An Apology from St Andrew’s United Church to First Nations People For Harm67Caused by “Indian” Residential Schools, 6 May, 1997, Maht Mahs, Tseshaht IRS, Port Alberni,BC. Ron Hamilton, personal interview, 11 December, 2006. 6835of dignity and wholeness. This apology is not meant to be an end but aspringboard moving us into the new energy of courage and commitment needed inthe task of rebuilding. Our hope is that it will further the healing process in nativecommunities and add to the spirit of reconciliation.67Obviously there were mixed emotions at the feast. Many, many people were honestlymoved and accepted the apology for themselves. Many took the opportunity to speak about whatthe apology meant to them. Both aboriginal and non-aboriginal people felt they had been changedby the process. One of the St Andrew’s elders, Fred Bishop, then in his eighties, spoke of theapology as the most powerful spiritual experience of his life. Many First Nations people spoke oftheir need to hear the words of the apology. For most, the apology feast was a spiritualexperience, one that was for the most part accepted in the spirit in which it was evidently offered;the spirit of sincerity, humility, cultural sensitivity and honesty. Ron Hamilton, who had at first been skeptical of the idea of the apology, said that thefeast made a large impact on people, with the gift-giving and the sincerity with which the giftswere dispersed to people in the gathering. The gifts were beautiful, most made especially for theoccasion. Besides the larger gifts, (he himself received a blanket from Ester Haack which he stilltreasures), Ron remembered the young people going out to various people where they wereseated with smaller gifts. The fact that the young people of the congregation participated inspeaking and gift-giving was seen as another sign of their sincerity.  As one of the consultants onprotocol, Ron Hamilton was impressed by the care for protocol and the respect with which thecongregation acted.   The possibility for healing between the church and First Nations, a68relationship damaged so badly during the original AIRS trials in the 1990s and as a result of the Personal group interview with former members of St Andrew’s United Church, Port69Alberni, 22 October, 2006.  Telephone interview with Nelson Keitlah, 12 October, 20067036residential school experience of so many of the local First Nations people, began to crack openjust a little as a result of the apology and feast.Regardless of what their participation had been, people who attended the feast retainstrong emotional memories of the event. Even with all the planning, there was someapprehension even into the actual program itself about how it would be accepted. One personremembered that it was as if some of the First Nations people, even if they had not originallyintended to accept the apology, felt obligated to accept when it was obviously so sincere. But thefinal show of acceptance was when the various groups of Nuu-Chah-Nulth started to comeforward to drum and to sing.  69Remembering that night almost ten years later, Nelson Keitlah spoke about hope andreconciliation. He said that before the apology, there was a “clashing of cultures” [between theNuu-Chah-Nulth and the church/non-aboriginal people in the Valley] The apology was “one ofthe biggest moves by the church” to change that. It was “a true act of courage and it showed” theFirst Nations people that there were non-native people, including church people, who weresincere. “It showed sincerity, even through there were still some legal hurdles....I think it showedsome ways of expressing a true feeling that we [the church] really meant it.” There was however,“some alienation” due to the small amount of support that came “out of the east” [GeneralCouncil]. “It felt really good at the feast. All the Chiefs and people who wanted to come weresitting down. The congregation of St Andrew’s did all the cooking and serving and running thefloor [following protocol, making presentations, running the mikes etc.]. The process and the actof the feast and apology was “absolutely beneficial. History will tell us as time passes.”70We [First Nations] are in a critical stage of our history [now in 2006]. Suicides and things Telephone interview with Nelson Keitlah, 12 October, 200671 Personal group interview with former members of St Andrew’s United Church, Port72Alberni, 22 October, 2006.37are not good news. From the beginning [of contact] smallpox and other diseases [have devastated communities]. [Now], major decisions must be made by our people, our leaders. The young onesare coming with great ambitions.”    Terry Whyte also talked about the fact that ten years later, it71was good to see that major economic and political initiatives in the Alberni Valley were comingfrom the First Nations people themselves, like Chief Judith Sayers of the Hupacasath, andothers.  While not direct outcomes of the apology, the resurgence of the First Nations people is72seen as an essential part of the whole fabric of healing and wholeness for the greater community.Of course to assume that all was immediately healed and made well would be a grossover-simplification of the experience. Not everyone trusted what was being said. Some wonderedwhat gave the congregation of St Andrew’s the right to apologize for something they had nodirect participation in. There were others for whom no apology would ever suffice. The personaland inter-generational effects were too devastating. The loss of parenting skills, of language, ofculture, and the physical, psychological and emotional scarring were too deep. The culture ofabuse in families and communities torn apart by generations of residential school attendance wastoo painful to overcome. An article in the local Port Alberni paper the following day speaks ofthe pain of the Ditidaht people.Ditidaht protest in quiet dignity - By Karen Beck, Staff Reporter Alberni Valley Times,Wednesday, 7th May , 1997, page 1The divided emotions of a nation and even a family quietly stood vigil over the first stepin a peace-making process on the Tseshaht reserve, Tuesday. Not everyone is prepared to accept the apology offered by St Andrew’s United Churchcongregation to people affected by abuse and neglect at the United Church-run Alberni IndianResidential School. Ditidaht protest in quiet dignity - By Karen Beck, Staff Reporter Alberni Valley Times,73Wednesday, 7th May , 1997, page 1 Mike Lewis, interview, 22 September, 2006, Port Alberni.7438Charlie Thompson accepted the plaque with its printed words of sorrow and regret frommembers of the church on behalf of the Ditidaht Nation. His brother, Jack Thompson, the electedchief of that group, sat on the stage in silent protest.Some of the residential school victims and their family members were overcome withemotion during the ceremony. Speeches lasted long into the night. Tears coursed down the linedcheeks of half a dozen protesters as well.“We’re white people living in a Indian skin - that’s all we are now and we’re going tochange that,” Carl Edgar Sr. said before the assembly of about 500 people. “We don’t acceptyour apology.”The demonstrators belong to the Ditidaht First Nation. Every one of the six members whosat on the stage at the side of the room holding large signs are survivors of the Alberni IndianResidential School. Behind them sat friends and family in quiet support.Among the hundreds of First Nations people gathered in the main part of the hall, about12 identified themselves as being former students of that facility [that closed in 1973].“JUSTICE TO MY FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE UNTIL THEGOVERNMENT AND THE DIA (Department of Indian Affairs) TAKE RESPONSIBILITY,”was printed in big letters on a sign carried by one woman.Caption under photo of protestors: Some members of the Ditidaht First Nations, electedChief Jack Thompson among them, won’t acknowledge any apologies until they’re accompaniedby a formal and fitting apology from the provincial and federal governments.  73The Ditidaht [protesters] expressed what others felt. Maintaining a relationship with theDitidaht after the apology was very important in terms of building trust.  According to others74looking back on the event, it was humbling to be protested. Perhaps that too, showed that theapology was being treated as an authentic act, even by those who could not accept it forthemselves. Much of the protest by the Ditidaht was about cultural losses, losses to their community Ester Haack, group interview, Port Alberni, BC, 22 October, 2006.75 See Appendix VI for text of the “Addenda to the Apology” 7639from the breakdown of families [this community was one of the hardest hit in terms ofgenerational impacts of violence and sexual abuse]. One former member of St Andrew’sexpressed the opinion that it would be impossible for anyone not directly affected by theresidential schools to have a true appreciation of the losses. “How can you begin to imagine theloss of culture? We haven’t lost the tools to deal with life and living.”75Members of the congregation, too, while unanimous in their support of presenting theapology, were not entirely without their own personal struggles. There were members who hadserved diligently, faithfully, and sometimes sacrificially as workers in the residential schools, andwith students from the residences, providing them with loving care, opportunities for socialoccasions, sports, and other extra curricular activities. Others had taken children from theresidential schools into their homes during holidays when they were not able to return to theirown families or communities for whatever reason. Church members were often the only peopleat the time who knew or cared about what happened to aboriginal children. Some of these peopleplayed a instrumental role in the push for the apology, while at the same time recognizing thepain they and others felt at the implication of guilt for their participation in a now reviled system.The struggle to make amends for an historical wrong while at the same time doing justice topeople whose life’s work was now seen as part of a system that was completely destructive wasextremely difficult. Claire Hunston wrote an “Addenda to the Apology” at the time of theapology feast. It was used as part of the healing program at a gathering for former residentialschools’ staff, held at Vancouver School of Theology in March, 2000.76The feast was over, the apology had formally been given to the First Nations people fromthe congregation of St Andrew’s, but the ongoing frustration with General Council over offering See: Appendix II for text of the statement of repentance.77 email correspondence from former Moderator Marion Best, 5 November 20077840an apology was still far from resolved. The petition from the congregation that had been makingits way up the courts of the church had now, in August of 1997, reached the floor of the GeneralCouncil Meeting in Camrose, Alberta.Then came a devastating blow from the fourth and highest court of the United Church.After  considerable debate of the floor of the court, General Council decided that it was best, andcertainly safest from a legal point of view, to issue a statement of “repentance” for the UnitedChurch’s involvement in residential schools rather than the apology that was called for in the twopetitions on the matter.  While the commissioners from British Columbia had pressed hard for77an apology, there was little interest from commissioners from the rest of the country. East ofManitoba the legacy of Residential Schools was largely unknown, and with the majority ofcommissioners originating in Ontario and the Maritimes, the long term repercussions of thedecision not to apologize seemed unimportant at the time. It was a bitter pill to swallow.78Even more intolerable was what seemed like continuing and callous disregard for the plaintiffs from the United Church lawyers in the ongoing litigation. The United Church hadinstigated a third-party lawsuit against the Federal Government over vicarious liability in theAIRS trial, and its lawyers were still engaged in aggressive questioning of plaintiffs at trials inNanaimo and Vancouver. The hoped-for changes resulting from the apology and the church’s“statement of repentance” were nowhere in evidence. Whether the language used is that ofapology, like St Andrew’s’ or of repentance, like General Council’s, the implication is that ofchange, of turning, of transformation. Two local clergy, members of the same Comox-NanaimoPresbytery of which St Andrew’s was a part, wrote an article that appeared in a Parksvillecommunity newspaper:  Spencer, Phillip and Foster Freed,  PQ News Faith Column, no date,  typewritten copy79attached to John Siebert’s Memorandum Sept 10-11, 1997. For the full text, see Appendix VII41While using the theological language of repentance is most appropriate in thechurch, the result of this reticence about an apology, coupled with the church’srecent third party lawsuit against the Federal government, gives the impression offearfulness at best and lack of integrity at worst. The Biblical understanding ofrepentance has everything to do with a sharp change of direction, of doing a 180degree turn. It is ultimately about returning to God. If we in the church are going toreturn to God, then the first step, the smallest step we can take is to apologize tothose we have injured.79What continued to follow in terms of the actions of the United Church and its lawyers, was farfrom transformative.In September 1997, John Siebert, Division of Mission in Canada staff from GeneralCouncil again traveled to the West Coast to listen and to explain the church’s position. Thefollowing is a Memorandum on the trip, Re: Residential Schools, sent to Kathy Hogman andothers. This trip was undertaken at very short notice as a partial response to comment andmedia coverage of the United Church of Canada third party claim and thestatement of repentance passed at GC 36 in Camrose in August 1997. ... Questionsremained about what the third party legal action really signified - its timing andactual meaning - and its relation to the two petitions calling for an apology whichoriginated in BC. Did what was passed actually say what the petitions called for indifferent language or did it mean the church got scared? Or caved in to lawyers andinsurance opinion?There is considerable difference of opinion about what the legal implications are incivil suits of using the word “apology” when legal authorities give very differentinterpretations. Some former students who do not relate to the UC are hostile to thechurchy word “repentance.” All they want to hear from the UC is someone say theyare sorry, and they judge the UC to have stopped short of this. The press coverageand editorials criticizing the UC has caused bitterness at the GC in some folks,within and without the church, which should not be underestimated....In the afternoon I met with the new Executive Director of the Provincial RSProject, Gloria Murdock-Smith. The Project is accountable to the BC Summit ofChiefs, a body representing those First Nations in BC which are participating in theTreaty Commission process. Until recently the Project’s work has focused onproviding counseling and other supports to former students bringing criminal  Memorandum from John Siebert, 15 September 1997, Subject: Trip Report to BC re:80Residential Schools, 10-11 September 199742complaints relating to former staff to the RCMP. A new strategic plan for theProject has recently been adopted which envisions a tri-partite table of FN,governments and churches to discuss issues such as apologies and restitution,support to healing centres (possibly establishing 3 new healing centres), educationand communication of the facts of what happened in the schools, and advocacy fora provincial inquiry....On 11 September I traveled to Port Alberni for meetings with Kathy Hogman, theminister at St. Andrews UC, Simon Read, on staff at the Nuu-Chah-Nulth TribalCouncil (NTC) and several former students who attended the Alberni RS who havebeen deeply involved in the healing processes in their communities. This was the most difficult part of the trip. Anger and disappointment were strongin each meeting, although reaction was mixed to my explanation about why“repentance” was substituted for “apology” in the GC 36 motion so that legalleverage could be maintained to pursue the federal government’s primaryresponsibility for the schools. In some cases it was seen as a contribution to thelonger term resolution of the legacy of residential schools, but it was also viewedas an inappropriate assumption of a task which First Nations will undertake. I suggested that the GC36 motion was not the last action by the UC andencouraged those interested to write directly about their concerns for the church tohear and respond...On 12 September I met over breakfast with five members of Comox-NanaimoPresbytery. The ethical and theological problems of the GC actions were a primaryconcern. Phillip Spencer and Foster Freed’s submission to the local newspaper(attached) captures some of this. United Church folks on Vancouver Island havebeen especially vulnerable to the media criticisms on this issue, which focusesconcretely in their own backyard. The GC’s right to make decisions and act on ofbehalf of the church was acknowledged, but there is a practical need to inform andpreferably to consult so that the best possible decisions can be made for the wholechurch. Mention was also made of the positive contribution of former staff and theneed for balance.It is hard not to conclude that the UC’s attempt to explain its course of action overthe past few months in terms of being responsible for its role while pursuingfederal government primary responsibility is either not being heard or being largelydiscounted. This will need to be kept firmly in view as the time proceeds to thescheduled 2 February 1998 court date for civil suits arising from sexual abuse atthe ARS.80 Spencer, Phillip and Foster Freed,  PQ News Faith Column, no date,  typewritten copy81attached to John Siebert’s Memorandum Sept 10-11, 1997. For the full text, see Appendix VII43Siebert’s memorandum contains several hopeful elements, in terms of some appreciationof the scepticism and disappointment from both the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communityover the church’s continuing refusal to change its ways and apologize; as well as references tothe desire to engage in initiatives like “a tri-partite table of First Nations, governments andchurches to discuss issues such as apologies and restitution, support to healing centres (possiblyestablishing three new healing centres), education and communication of the facts of whathappened in the schools, and advocacy for a provincial inquiry.” While apparently sincere,Siebert’s conclusion seemed largely aimed at maintaining the United Church’s justification of itsposition on the viability of a true apology. The significance was not lost on local clergy.Earlier this year members of St Andrew’s United Church in Port Alberni took afirst step in working toward healing by offering an apology to First Nations peoplewho experienced abuse at the church run school... The General Council chose,however, not to issue an apology...An apology was not offered at this time out ofconcern that it could lead to enormous financial awards from law suits. Thechurch can repent it seems, but we cannot yet apologize....if there is anything that we have learned from our experience with the residentialschool system it is this: good intentions and fine motives are not,as we consider our errors of the past, we need to risk doing the right thing. Weneed to say we are sorry.”81It seemed that the sharp differences in understanding over both a real apology fromGeneral Council and the need for a change of heart in the actions of the United Church in itsbehaviour as far as litigation was concerned were becoming, if possible, even more entrenched.The battle with General Council would continue for another year, while the appeal overvicarious liability dragged on, with more and more “collateral damage” to the theological andmoral stance of the United Church of Canada and more and more frustration from thecongregation of St Andrew’s and other Vancouver Island congregations.  Moderator’s Letter re: Residential School Trial, 2 July, 1998.82 Ibid.83 Terry Whyte, correspondence to Moderator Right Reverend Bill Phipps, August 9,841998.44In July of 1998, following a decision on vicarious liability by Mr. Justice Brenner onJune 4, 1998 in the Alberni Indian Residential School (AIRS) trial, Moderator The RightReverend Bill Phipps sent out a letter to all congregations. The letter expresses the greatdifficulty with which a decision to appeal the judgement was made. “..the General CouncilExecutive met to consider what actions to take...No part of the process was easy. After muchdiscussion, sharing of information, and theological reflection, a multi-faceted decision [toappeal] was reached.”  There were also attempts at conciliation and responsibility for82continuing work towards healing. The filing of the appeal does not in any way limit our plan to pursue morecomprehensive methods of resolving claims arising out of the residential schoolsystem. We are not denying our involvement...Rather we are seeking waysalternative to the court system to understand more clearly our involvement and totake fair and just action...Any decision we take in this process are fraught withmoral dilemmas. Every person involved is struggling with how justice for horrificwrongs can be achieved....In September I will accompany some members of theGeneral Council Executive to Port Alberni and Vancouver to listen, to learn, topray together with people directly involved in native ministries and communitieswhere the pain of these events is an every day reality. We are in the midst of along and painful journey. Despite differing perceptions and opinions, may wenever lose sight of the ultimate goals of justice, healing, and hope.  83The decision by General Council to appeal Justice Brenner’s decision on vicariousliability in the AIRS trial, while seen as necessary to get “the best judgement we can get” for allparties  by some members of the congregation, was seen by others as a further betrayal of the84social gospel theology of the United Church, which has long prided itself in “speaking truth topower.” The use of the word “repentance” placed alongside the questionable actions of thelawyers employed by the United Church of Canada in their defense in the actual Alberni Indian Notes from a meeting, St Andrew’s United Church, Port Alberni, September 6, 1998,85Terry Whyte’s notebook, Section III, General Council Visit, 98-09-21 and follow up.45Residential School trial appalled and enraged many members of the United Church communitythroughout Vancouver Island and British Columbia. Certainly none more so than those who hadworked so hard and so long to establish the beginnings of a healing relationship to First Nationsby apologizing for abuses at the very school, abuses, that it seemed, at least to some, that theChurch was now, a mere year or so later, trying to evade responsibility for in a court of law.A meeting was held at St Andrew’s on September 6, 1998 to discuss the Moderator’sforthcoming visit in light of the continued litigation, and what the congregation hoped would beaccomplished by the visit. Items numbered four and five from the notes of that meeting areinstructive. Much has happened in the last 15 months since the Apology Supper at MahtMahs. I think that I can safely say that that was a significant congregational eventand that, regardless of our different opinions and backgrounds, we pulled togetherand something special happened; something no other UC congregation had done.We had control of the event, and it happened. Since that time, there has beendisappointment, confusion, even anger, due to events beyond our control - Trial inNanaimo, Appeal, the national church’s position.  85Obviously at least some of the frustration over the reluctance of General Council toapologize for the United Church’s actions stemmed from the real or perceived lack of integrityand hypocrisy that led the church-directed lawyers to continue their severe cross-examination ofplaintiffs in the AIRS trial. Some of the Alberni congregation who attended the trial were veryaffected by the actions of the lawyers. The day after the meeting at St Andrew’s, David Hooper, amember of the St Andrew’s congregation, relates his own experiences with the AIRS trials in aletter to the Moderator: I attended the trial in Nanaimo on four different occasions: early this year, Iwitnessed our lawyer, Mr. Chris Hinkson, cross-examining one of the plaintiffs,Marlon Watts; I was there for the cross-examination of former Principal, Mr. JohnAndrews; I was in attendance for Mr. John Siebert’s testimony; and I attended a Letter to the Moderator, The Right Reverend Bill Phipps,  from David Hooper,86September 7, 1998. Permission for use granted by telephone, 4 November, 2006.46morning session of the second part of the trial, in August, when plaintiffs MarthaJoseph and Calvin Barton were on the stand. It was not an edifying experience. I am disturbed by the discrepancy between our official words of “repentance” andwhat I saw in the courtroom in Nanaimo. I saw being undone before my eyes thebeginnings of reconciliation that had been achieved through our “Apology” to theNuu’chah-Nulth people in May of last year.The United Church lawyer displayed no glimmer of “repentance”...quite thecontrary. He was aggressive and insensitive in his cross-examination of plaintiffs.He was occasionally even defiant at the suggestion of United church responsibilityfor A.I.R.S. At the end of the day, we...came across as “weasels”, squirming to getoff the hook and trying to “pass the buck” onto the Federal Government.“Good lawyering”? - maybe - but a human relations disaster. We came across asjust another corporate client, concerned about the legality, rather than the moralityof the case. If you had been in the courtroom when Mr. Hinkson was cross-examining plaintiffs, suggesting that just maybe, they had not even attendedA.I.R.S., you would understand how our careful words about “repentance” ringhollow out here. The announcement that we were appealing the Brenner decision only confirmedthe trend of our legalistic approach to this human tragedy.Why are we going the “legal route”? From my viewpoint, every day longer thatwe are in court, more damage is caused: to the plaintiffs, who have to relive theirpain for the court; to the mainly First Nations spectators and supporters, who seewhat they see and form their own conclusions about the United Church, whichappears to be standing for no higher purpose than self-preservation.I look forward to your visit to Port Alberni.86Finally, in September of 1998, 11 members of General Council Executive of the UnitedChurch of Canada traveled to Port Alberni to spend the day with the congregation of St Andrew’slearning about the work that went into their apology and hearing from members their reflectionson the AIRS trials. The proposed agenda for the day included a review of the process that led upto the St Andrew’s apology, the apology itself, and then reflections on the meaning of the Proposed Agenda, General Council Executive Visits St Andrew’s - 98-09-21, from87Terry Whyte’s notebook, Section III, General Council Visit, 98-09-21 and follow up. See Appendix VIII for full text of the questions to General Council Executive.88   Very Reverend Bill Phipps, telephone conversation, 21 September, 2006. 8947apology, for individuals as well as for the congregation. After lunch there would be remarks andquestions for General Council Executive from the St Andrew’s folk about what had happenedsince the apology. There would be a time for General Council to respond, then after a break, sixquestions previously framed by the congregation.  These questions outlined similar concerns to87those expressed by David Hooper in his letter to the Moderator prior to the visit.88The trip to Port Alberni was a memorable one for those who attended from GeneralCouncil Executive. According to Very Reverend Bill Phipps, who attended as Moderator at thattime, some who made the trip to Port Alberni described the experience as life-changing. Indeed,he credited the meeting with the congregation as instrumental in the eventual General CouncilExecutive decision to formally apologize to all First Nations people who had attended residentialschools.89Despite the positive experience of the General Council Executive visit to Port Alberni,the behaviour of the United Church of Canada lawyers in the AIRS trial continued to mitigateagainst the sincerity of the St Andrew’s apology and the United Church’s commitment to“repentance.” The congregation again struggled with the need for theological congruity betweenthe words and the actions of the United Church of Canada. In particular, the congregation felt thechallenge in maintaining the theological integrity of a particular congregation or pastoral chargeat a time when the General Council was behaving in a contradictory manner. There were stillmany theological concerns remaining after the visit by the Moderator and the General Council toPort Alberni. In a draft letter to General Council, the congregation attempted to put into wordstheir genuine concerns and frustrations with the ongoing reluctance of the United Church to From a draft letter to General Council Executive from St Andrew’s United Church90congregation, October 1998. From a copy in Terry Whyte’s notebook, Section III, Prepare forGeneral Council Executive Visit48make substantive changes in behaviour and language around an apology for their role in theresidential school system, and the abuses that occurred there. Most importantly, whatreconciliatory action could be expected from General Council as a result of their expressedsorrow and repentance?Healing takes place within the context of personal relationships in communities. What isthe church doing to assist at this level? Most definitely it needs to engage native peopleon their ground and ask them what they feel is needed to free up the next steps on thepath.When Marion Best [former moderator] was here in 1996 the message to her from Nuu-chah-nulth leaders was clear, “We want an apology.” The sentiment remains. When willthe church clearly and unequivocally apologize to these people? We need to accept someresponsibility and communicate that publicly.An apology is needed. A repentance statement may seem like a good theologicalsubstitute and has the advantage of being less implicating legally but it neither replacesor absolves us from the truly interactive dynamic of the apology native people arewaiting for. From Port Alberni it is clear that nothing else will be acceptable.We shared with you some of the anxiety, risks and fears that accompanied us through ourapology process. We realize the larger church is entering the same unsure ground ofvulnerability and would like to encourage you, as leaders, to accept the unknowns andact in faith. Doing what is right has a cost but it is ever so much more bearable than thebaggage produced by acting otherwise...90The letter that was ultimately sent to the General Council Executive, dated October 11,1998, while less confrontational, touched the deeply felt theological pain of the congregation. Init, the congregation urged the General Council Executive to take courage from the struggles thatthe congregation itself had gone through. The letter especially emphasized the need for theUnited Church to place its priority in its “witness to the love of God” rather than as defendants insecular courts.To our sisters and brothers in Christ...We came away from our day with the members of the Executive feeling both blessed and Letter from St Andrew’s United Church, 4574 Elizabeth Street, Port Alberni, BC, V9Y916L6, to General Council Executive, October 11, 1998. Copies in Terry Whyte’s notebook,Section IV, General Council Visit, 98-09-21 and follow up. 49troubled; blessed that our Church is indeed struggling to discern a path consistent withbeing followers of Jesus, and troubled that we may be missing the signposts that pointout His path.Part of our difficulty is that we believe our witness to Christ cannot be divorced from thecontext of the court case. Whatever the complexities of the case, the steps we take in themonths ahead must be authentic and transparent. We must be witnesses to the love ofGod first and be defendants in the secular setting of the courts, second. Unfortunately, our actions in the courts have already betrayed this fundamental demandof our faith. Through our lawyers and through an official representative who took thestand on our Church’s behalf, we presented information that was misleading andinaccurate (see attached). While we applaud the Church giving the lawyer instructions to behave respectfully, it isnot enough. We believe that we must apologize to the plaintiffs directly and publicly inthis matter... we support the General Council’s call for repentance. We were heartenedby the statement of our moderator that we must accept our responsibility for theChurch’s involvement in the residential schools...Let us assume a stance that is worthy offollowers of the Way, the Truth and the Life. We also need to state once more that an apology is needed... When Marion Best [formermoderator] was here in 1996 the message to her from Nuu-chah-nulth leaders was clear,“We want an apology.”Those of you who were with us know something of the risks, anxiety, conflict and fearsthat accompanied us through our apology process. You were also witness to the hope,renewal and depth of spiritual vitality that was the result. Based on our experience, weknow apology is important in our healing process....Your sisters and brothers in Christ, 91The appendix of this letter to General Council Executive gave details of specific inaccuraciesfrom the residential school trials as noted by Reverend Jim Manly, who along with his wife, Eva,had attended the Alberni Indian Residential School (Blackwater v Plint) trials in Nanaimo andsubsequent appeals trials. The inaccuracies noted related to the United Church agreement tomanage the AIRS, discrepancies in testimony between United Church witnesses as to whetheradministrators and staff of the school were church employees, objection to historical documents Back side of letter from St Andrew’s United Church, 4574 Elizabeth Street, Port92Alberni, BC, V9Y 6L6, to General Council Executive, October 11, 1998. Copies in TerryWhyte’s notebook, Section IV, General Council Visit, 98-09-21 and follow up.   The United Church of Canada. The Manual, 1998. 31  Edition (no place: United93 stChurch Publishing House, 1998) p. 350from the Presbyterian Church from 1895-97 because the United Church of Canada did not existat that time, and equivocation by the Executive Secretary about the duties of a particular GeneralCouncil Executive staff member responsible for aboriginal issues.92Throughout the process of moving from the specific St Andrew’s United Church apologytoward a larger apology from the General Council of the United Church of Canada, and othermore specific apologies directed toward plaintiffs and witnesses at the Alberni trials for mis-treatment by the United Church of Canada lawyers and misrepresentations by United Churchwitnesses, the congregation continued to press the urgency and theological imperative for justice.At the same time, they continued to stress their own struggles and learnings, about vulnerability,about transparency, about fallibility, about the nature of humility and faith and the “freedom andresponsibility under law...and the inescapable demands placed on every member of the church.”  93After all is said and done, in the church and in the courts of law, is there a place when aninstitution arrives at some kind of terminal accountability? And for a church, what does thatterminal accountability consist of: is it protection of the ongoing legal status of the institution, oradherence to some essential core belief system? And if and when those values or essential beliefsconflict, as they so obviously did during the negotiations and litigation over residential schoolissues, how does the institution make decisions about how to proceed? These were the criticalquestions that continued to dog the relationship between the United Church of Canada and the StAndrew’s congregation and many other people of faith, and most importantly, on the continuingrelationship of the Church to First Nations peoples. Personal interview with Ron Hamilton, 11 December, 2006.94 Draft letter to General Council Executive, 10-05-98, in Terry Whyte’s notebook,95Section IV, General Council Visit, 98-09-21 and follow up.51Conclusion:As St Andrew’s implied in their letters to General Council Executive, it was time for thechurch to get on with the truly interactive dynamic of an apology, change its focus and behaviour,and make amends and restitution. As Ron Hamilton said in an interview on 11 December, 2006,“What would be the worst thing that would happen if the church just said, we are responsible?That they would have to sell everything to pay off what they were responsible for? Would that besuch a bad thing? To have to sell all the property, all the buildings, everything? [Would thechurch cease to exist?] Then they would have to meet in each other’s houses. I don’t want thechurch to do anything it doesn’t want to do...but what if they just accepted their responsibility forthe abuses, and let the chips fall where they may?”   As the congregation at St Andrew’s said in94one of its draft statements to General Council Executive, “we realize the larger church is enteringthe same unsure ground of vulnerability, and we would like to encourage you, as leaders, toaccept the unknown, and act in faith.”95As time went on, various initiatives towards reconciliation with First Nations people wereimplemented, with varying degrees of success. Some, like the Alterative Dispute ResolutionProcess, have only recently concluded. Others, like the sharing and healing circles held in variouscongregational settings, are less prominent now. Late in 1998, the United Church of Canada,through a decision by General Council, apologized for “its complicity in the Indian ResidentialSchool System.” The Moderator, The Right Reverend Bill Phipps issued the apology on behalf ofthe church. In it, the Moderator urged “each and every member of the church, to reflect on these United Church Apology for complicity in the Indian Residential School System, 1998.96See Appendix IX for the full text of the apology. de Gruchy, John W. Reconciliation: Restoring Justice. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,972002) p. 15. Emphasis in text. de Gruchy, John W. Reconciliation: Restoring Justice. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,982002), p. 15452issues and to join us as we travel this difficult road of repentance, reconciliation and healing.”  96The idea of reconciliation is not only a fine moral ideal, but an intrinsic part of Christiantheology. But to fulfil its theological potential, reconciliation must be seen to be more than anabstract theological idea. John W. de Gruchy, writing in the aftermath of the apartheid era andthe Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, writes: “...dare we Christians speakabout reconciliation as though we have a monopoly on the word and its basis, as though we allagree on what it means, and as though the Church has been a shining example of a community ofreconciliation? In a world of many Christianities and many faiths, what is it that we have to saythat must be said, and which others might find worth hearing?”  The struggles to determine what97the church means and how it is willing to engage in the work of reconciliation with First Nationsis still as much a painful reality in the life of the United Church of Canada as in the secularworld. We have spoken of steps that can and must be taken, and choices that must be made, inthe process of reconciliation. The aim of each step is to break through the barriers of thepast, discern common interests, and so break open new possibilities that can take theprocess further. As in any art, to do this suggests that there is a discipline to be mastered,skills that need to be developed, and decisions that must be made. Yet it is important torecognize that there is no formula that if implemented will automatically bring success.The simple reason for this is that there is no such thing as reconciliation in the abstract.If and when it occurs, reconciliation always does so within a particular context and withregard to a particular set of interpersonal or social relations.98It is this continuing reality that guides local theology, including the various actions andinitiatives of individuals and congregations within the United Church. In the ten years since the Residential Schools UPDATE, October 2007.99Residential Schools UPDATE, July 200710053St Andrew’s congregation in Port Alberni began their discernment, there has been much progressin relations between the United Church of Canada and First Nations peoples. Vicarious liabilityfor the AIRS was adjudicated at 75% to the federal government and 25% to the United Church.The General Council of the United Church of Canada created a Residential School SteeringCommittee, composed of both aboriginal and non-aboriginal members, to deal with the ongoingnature of our mutual healing around residential school issues.  In 2003, an Alternative DisputeResolution (ADR) process was set up to deal with claims of physical or sexual abuse or wrongfulconfinement by former residential school students. This allowed survivors to seek justice andhealing beyond the confines of the adversarial and often traumatizing court system. About 10%of applicants to the ADR are former students of United Church-associated residential schools. Asof September 30, 2007, six hundred twenty six applications have been forwarded to the UnitedChurch of Canada, and four hundred twenty seven hearings have been completed or scheduledinto October 2007. One hundred eighty three ADR hearings so far have been attended byrepresentatives of the United Church. (Representatives attend all United Church related hearings,except where requested not to by the claimant.)  As well as witnessing to the process, the United99Church representatives also offer an apology directly to the claimants.  The ADR process has now been terminated with the implementation of a federally funded Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, September 19, 2007. “As of March 21, 2007,when the courts approved the Settlement Agreement, no more ADR claims for physical andsexual abuse or wrongful confinement have been accepted. Former students can make an abuseclaim under the new Independent Assessment Process (IAP)”  now that the agreement is100 Ibid.101 Residential Schools UPDATE, October 2007102 Mike Milne, “No more saving for a rainy day,” in The United Church Observer,103December 2006, p.32 Residential Schools UPDATE, July 2006. (Published Quarterly by The Residential104Schools Steering Committee, The United Church of Canada)54implemented. It will take up to two years to process all the ADR claims already received.”101“Under the Settlement Agreement, there are provisions for some claimants who already settledunder the ADR process to have their awards reviewed and possibly adjusted upwards.”102In 2005, “Native groups, churches and the federal government signed an agreement...thatlimits the United Church’s liability to about $6.5 million (most of which has already been paidout).”  The United Church, working as part of the tri-partite team of First Nations, Churches103and the federal government envisioned in 1997, helped to ensure an agreement in which loss oflanguage and culture were recognized. In April 2006, the federal government, the Assembly of First Nations, the four churches [RomanCatholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United], and counsel for the plaintiffs finalized theIndian Residential School Settlement Agreement. It provides for a Common ExperiencePayment, a revised process for resolving abuse claims, a Truth and ReconciliationCommission, and funds for healing programs and commemoration. At its springmeeting...the General Council Executive... unanimously agreed that the United Church ofCanada would become a signatory to the agreement.104The historic signing of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement inSeptember of 2007 was a significant step on the healing journey. However, a legal agreement andmonetary compensation is never a final answer, and certainly not a theological one. Assembly ofFirst Nations Chief Phil Fontaine was quick to remind Canadians that the common experiencepayments to former students were not a gift, or even compensation, but merely recognition of anhistoric injustice. Even now that the Agreement has been signed, the largest beneficiaries are the lawyers Chief Robert Joseph, Residential Schools Survivors Society, Summer School course,105Vancouver School of Theology, July 2006. From my personal notes.55for all the parties. In the end, lawyers will receive around $300 million, whereas the averageamount per survivor is likely to be around $25,000. (Compare this amount to the ten milliondollars already paid out by the federal government to Maher Arar for his rendition to Syria.) Thedate to apply for pay out for any and all phases of the final agreement will end in the year 2012,after which time there will be no more federal money ever.  And the United Church itself seems105content with the idea that the majority of its financial obligations to First Nations people has beensatisfied.While progress has been made towards reconciliation, and the United Church hasbelatedly begun to catch up to the actions and initiative of its members and congregations, thereare still disturbing dissonances between intent and action. Much of the federal governmentfunding for the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement has already been distributed.For instance, the $125 million over five years for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation will bedistributed to projects that are already funded. The $60 million for a National Truth Commissionwill fund seven national events in large cities, and then others in communities, including thecreation of archives. In terms of reconciliation, the Truth Commission provides the best hope forfurther engagement of local congregations and Residential School survivors, some of whom havecontinued to be part of the United Church.  True reconciliation is always broader, deeper, andmore sacred than anything we can accomplish ourselves.(2 Corinthians:16-18). Yet we can askourselves if we are willing and able, as individuals and as a church, to make a beginning. Whenasked in an interview with Janet Silman if the 1986 Apology to Native People by the UnitedChurch had been “truly a process of reconciliation,” The Very Reverend Stan McKay, firstaboriginal Moderator of the United Church of Canada, had this to say: I think there is a potential for some sharing of power. It hasn’t happened yet, but the “A First Nations Movement in a Canadian Church” by Stanley McKay and Janet106Silman, in Baum, Gregory and Harold Wells, eds. The Reconciliation of Peoples: Challenge tothe Churches (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1997) p. 182 emphasis mine. de Gruchy, John W. Reconciliation: Restoring Justice. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,1072002) p. 15356potential is being worked on in some aspects. Also a sharing of spirit, of sacred ways. Atthe apology that evening [at General Council in August 1986], Art Solomon - always theelder of insight beyond the bullshit - said to the church, “Get real, or get lost!” (laughter)And that is reconciliation. Not the pretense, but the struggles for the fullness of humanlife shared. The ongoing struggle to be fully human...The reconciliation begins in that will to be involved, but if you are unwilling tostruggle with the realities of the history and with the dreams of the people...In Canadamany people within the structure of the church have not yet analyzed the historicalbreaking of spirits, the crushing of people in order to maintain the institution at all costs,and they still are hanging onto dreams that are our nightmares. If that history is not dealtwith, there is a hollowness to the apology. The expected reconciliation is forever delayedbecause people still do not understand each other. The talk of reconciliation is too soon,because the inequity, the status quo, really hasn’t changed. If part of the church can haveall the benefits of the land’s resources, and others go wanting, reconciliation cannothappen. Justice and the image of being the people of God aren’t being acted out.106It is to be hoped that churches like the United Church, rather than being content to rest onthe limits of their legal obligations, will continue, when asked, to participate in mutual healingevents with First Nations peoples, particularly on the local level where real and lasting humanconnections are made. It is also imperative that churches and their members actively engage intheir own healing. Martin Luther King’s networks of mutuality remain as relevant today as theywere in the 1960s. We will certainly not achieve perfections in our attempts at reconciliation,whether it is reconciliation with ourselves and our institutions, or with others. “If there is noguaranteed formula for success there is also no precise mechanism for deciding when the goal ofreconciliation has been achieved. In the full sense of the word it always lies beyond us. Yet therecomes a point in the process when reconciliation becomes a reality, when the conversationreaches a new level of commitment, embrace and shared hope.”107With its historic “Apology to First Nations People For Harm Caused by ‘Indian’Residential Schools”, the people of St Andrew’s United Church in Port Alberni embraced a new57level of commitment and shared hope. In doing so they also gave the United Church of Canada agreat gift: the gift of renewal, of hope, and the gospel gift of belief in the possibility of change.Their faith, creativity and perseverance provided the impetus for the institution to re-examine itsrelationship with repentance and forgiveness, and to move toward a recognition of the need formutual healing. Sadly, many of the people who were so involved with the St Andrew’s apology are nolonger at home in the local United Church of Canada. No doubt this is a serious loss to theinstitution of the church. On the other hand, Ron Hamilton’s comments about the churchreturning to its roots, with small groups of hopeful, committed, justice-seeking people, meetingtogether to share, explore, and strengthen their faith is a living reality for many of them. Maythey continue to be blessed on their journey.58BibliographyAlberni Valley Times, Wednesday, 7th May , 1997Aurelius, Marcus. Meditations, Trans. Maxwell Staniforth (London: Penguin, 1964)Baum, Gregory, Harold Wells, eds. The Reconciliaion of Peoples: Challenge to the Churches.Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1997Bavelas, Janet, Centre for Christian Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria,Occasional Paper No. 1,  An Analysis of Formal Apologies by Canadian Churches to FirstNations (University of Victoria, July 2004)Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Gruchy, John W. Reconciliation: Restoring Justice. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002 Ellis, Marc H. Revolutionary Forgiveness: Essays on Judaism, Christianity and the Future ofReligious Life. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2000.Gunn, Cynthia. Legal/Judicial Counsel for the United Church of Canada, Letter to KathyHogmanHeschel, Abraham. The Prophets: Part II, (New York: Harper & Row, 1962)Hooper, David. Letter to the Moderator, The Right Reverend Bill Phipps, September 7, 1998.Joseph, Chief Robert,  Residential Schools Survivors Society, Summer School course, VancouverSchool of Theology, July 2006.Memorandum from John Siebert, General Council staff, Division of Mission in Canada, to KathyHogman  et al, 1  October 1996.stMessage to Pastoral Charges and Special Ministries in BC Conference Presbytery Chairs andSecretaries from Brian Thorpe, United Church of Canada, British Columbia Conference, 200-1955 West 4   Avenue, Vancouver, BC. February 6, 1996.thParksville Qualicum News. Phillip Spencer and Foster Freed,  Faith Column, fall 1997Residential Schools UPDATE, July and October 2006 (Published Quarterly by The ResidentialSchools Steering Committee, The United Church of Canada)St Andrew’s United Church, 4574 Elizabeth St., Port Alberni, BC V9Y 6L6, Minutes ofCongregational Meeting, February 2, 1997Sutherland, Jessie. Worldview Skills: Transforming Conflict from the Inside Out. No place:Worldview Strategies, 2005.Towards a BC Conference Response to Residential Schools, Wednesday, February 14 , 1:30-th4:00pm, BC Conference Office, Board Room, 19955 West 4  Avenue [Vancouver].   TerrythWhyte’s notebookTerry Whyte. A Contribution to the Indian Residential School discussion at St Andrew’s UnitedChurch, Port Alberni, BC. (7 June, 1996)59Terry Whyte. Letter to Moderator the Right Reverend Bill Phipps, 6 September, 1998The United Church Observer, December 2006. Mike Milne, “No more saving for a rainy day”The United Church of Canada. The Manual, 1998. 31  Edition. No place: United ChurchstPublishing House, 1998Vanier, Jean. Becoming Human, Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 1998Telephone interviews were graciously granted to me by:Marion BestReverend Kathy HogmanDavid HooperNelson KeitlahReverend Jim ManlyThe Very Reverend Bill PhippsIndividual personal interviews were graciously granted by:Beate GrannemanRon HamiltonMike LewisAn invitation to worship and then a large and lively personal discussion with Terry Whyte andmany of the members of the original St Andrew’s congregation including but not restricted to:Gordie Brand Ester HaackDiane Mayba John MaybaMyrtle Spencer Ian ThomasShirley Whyte Terry WhyteBernadette Wytonemail correspondence was received from The Very Reverend Bob Smith and former ModeratorMarion BestArchival material from St Andrew’s now held at the amalgamated Alberni Valley United Churchwas assembled with the most gracious assistance of Church Secretary Anna Cole.Material from the United Church Archives at the Vancouver School of Theology was assembledwith the able assistance of Blair Galston, Archivist for BC Conference.   All information from The Manual, 1998. 31  Edition (no place: United Church108 stPublishing House, 199860Appendix IThe basic unit of organization of the four court system of the United Church of Canada is thePastoral Charge (The Manual,104), which may be made up of one or more congregations. Thesein turn are part of a Presbytery (310), whose membership consists of members of the Order ofMinistry within the [geographical] bounds of the Presbytery, and one or more lay representatives from each Pastoral Charge, according to membership numbers. Each presbytery is part of a Conference. Members of the Conference are all Presbytery memberswithin the bounds of the Conference (410). Finally, General Council, whose membership includes commissioners appointed in equalnumbers from the ordered and lay members of each Conference and other members specific toGeneral Council Executive, Moderators and past moderators, General Secretary and otherGeneral Council Secretaries and others. General Council, besides having full powers to legislateon matters respecting the doctrine, worship, membership, and government of the United Church[subject to certain restrictions] (505 a - i.), also, through the Division of Finance, has generaloversight of the finances of the United Church. It was from this legal position that the pressurefrom General Council was most keenly felt during the discussion of the St Andrew’s apology.The United Church of Canada. 10861Appendix II“Repentance Statement of the 36  General Council (1997) in response to Petitions 78 & 79:thHaving heard and considered Petition 78, entitled Residential School Apology andPetition 79, entitled An Apology From St Andrew’s United Church for Harm Caused by “Indian”Residential Schools, and having considered presentations by the First Nations consultation to thisGeneral Council and table group responses, and having listened to the stories of a former studentand a former Christian educator in a residential school, and having consulted widely withresource people and First Nations commissioners, Therefore be it resolved that the 36  GeneralthCouncil adopt the following statement:Rationale & Faith Base:Jesus said, “When you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother orsister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go: first be reconciledwith your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Matt. 5: 23-24)We now realize that the offering of the churches and of countless faithful and caring servants ofthe churches, through their participation in the residential school system has tragically resulted inpain and suffering and injustice for many.Whereas the United Church supported the residential school system; andWhereas the native residential school system contributed in a primary way to the uprooting ofnative societies and to the rejection of native culture by removing children from theircommunities and by denying them access to their language, traditions and spirituality; andWhereas those losses were compounded in many instances by a wide variety of profoundinjustices and acute deprivations; andWhereas the destructive consequences of the residential school system continue to this day; andWhereas an individual has been convicted of numerous counts of sexual and physical abuse inconnection with the Port Alberni residential school; andWhereas any healing initiative will be inadequate in the absence of a clear statement ofrepentance and contrition by the United Church; andWhereas such a statement would set a positive example that the Government of Canada shouldbe persuaded to follow;Therefore be it resolved that the 36  General Council:th Adopted by the 36  General Council of the United Church of Canada, Camrose109 thAlberta, August, 1997.621. Recommit ourselves to living out the apology of the United Church of Canada to nativecongregations offered in 1986, and specifically the fourth paragraph, which states:‘We imposed our civilization as a condition for accepting the gospel. We tried to makeyou like us and in so doing we helped to destroy the vision that made you what you were. As aresult you and we are poorer and the image of the Creator in us is twisted, blurred, and we are notwhat we were meant by the Creator to be;2. Acknowledge the role that the federally-funded and controlled residential school systemhas had in the suffering of native people, in their loss of wholeness, of life, of language,of culture, and of spirituality, and our role in that system;3. Express our deep regret and sorrow to the First Nations of Canada for the injustices thatwere done and for the role of The United Church of Canada in the native residentialschool system, and as part of our expression write an open letter to the First Nations ofCanada;4. Continue dialogue and consultation with the First Nations of Canada in order to considerappropriate means to express our repentance and to take further steps along the healingpath and towards reconciliation;5. Urge individuals, congregations, Presbyteries/Districts, Conferences, and Divisions andthe Ethnic Ministries Council of General Council to learn directly from native personstheir experiences in residential schools and/or to study resources such as those providedby The Healing Fund;6. Urge individuals, congregations, Presbyteries/Districts, Conferences, to join the GeneralCouncil in petitioning the Government of Canada to accept the Government’sresponsibility for the abuses of the residential schools and to take meaningful stepsimmediately to redress those abuses.”10963Appendix IIIDraft of “An Apology from St Andrew’s United Church to First Nations Peoples For HarmCaused by Residential Schools” (96-06-25)   Presented to consultation meeting (97-01-24)We wish to address the issue of the continuing damage caused  by the former United Churchresidential schools. We know this damage takes many forms. Emotional and psychologicalscarring, social deprivation, and undermining of family and culture have all been identified asdestructive elements of residential schooling. Without a doubt the schools were intended tofacilitate assimilation. The practical effect was to alienate young people from their families andtheir culture, resulting in hopelessness, confusion, anger and self-hatred - all of which fireoppressive cycles such as substance abuse and suicide.Beyond the arrogance of assimilation there were the additional personal tragedies experienced byvictims of physical and sexual abuse.The facts about residential schools have become clear. In trying to come to terms with them wehereby acknowledge and confess that many wrongs were committed in the name of the UnitedChurch under that system. We admit the past complicity of our church with the dominant cultureof the day and with the federal government in perpetrating these injustices for so long. Weacknowledge, as well, that those damages continue to transfer grief and violence into FirstNations family, social, and cultural life. We of today’s United Church apologize for these things.We acknowledge the integrity, strength, and hope nurtured by so many First Nations people. Inthe same spirit, we recognize and celebrate the healing process that is already alive, bringing withit the reclamation of dignity and wholeness. This apology is not meant to be an end but aspringboard moving us into the new energy of courage and commitment needed in the task ofrebuilding. Our hope is that it will further the healing process in native communities and add to the spirit of reconciliation.    64Appendix IVemail correspondence from John Siebert to Terry Whyte, Thursday, 27 February, 1997, copy toKeith Howard. Subject: St Andrew’s Apology on Residential SchoolsI need to revise my message from 2 days ago. Thanks for sending me the wording of the apology.Today I read the text and my heart sank. There is no mention of the role of the federalgovernment. I feel like I have massively failed to communicate why this is so important to theprogress of the church responding to the residential school system. Cynthia Gunn, the church’slawyer, told me she has spoken to Kathy Hogman by telephone in the last couple of days. Pleaseexcuse  me if this message is repetitious.While it may appear institutionally self-serving and damaging to the relational work with theNuu-chah-nulth for the United Church to keep pressing on the federal government role, it is verypractical and very necessary. If any United Church apology is interpreted legally to be acceptingfull responsibility and blame for what took place in residential schools, the federal governmentcould use this to absolve itself legally of its responsibilities to participate in settlements andhealing strategies. This would be a tragedy first and foremost for First Nations people. It is likelythat only in the legal arena will the feds be forced to take responsibility. While it may satisfysome voices among the NTC and other First Nations to have this or any apology from the UnitedChurch, in this form it could kill their chances for redress from the federal government. This isbad moral reasoning and bad strategy for First Nations financial reasons.One of the over-riding ironies of the churches involvement with the residential schools was thatit was done with good intentions but tragic results. Now I fear, very greatly fear, that your goodintentions in delivering this apology and passing it up the church ladder will cause a great deal ofdamage to First Nations in seeking federal government redress. It could do the very opposite ofwhat you intended in the longer time frame.I cannot say this strongly enough. I bring a number of years of very patient and diligent work onthe national scene into account in sending this message.The Canyon City Fed-Salvation Army settlement is not worth holding your breath for. Theconviction of the perpetrator was in 1998. We do not know when the civil action was initiated,but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Plint was convicted in the Alberni situationin 1995 and that, even under the best of circumstances, we are many years away from that stagein Fed-United Church civil suits. The nature of the school (a day school) is quite different inCanyon City and we have no hard information on the nature of the settlement to make realcomparisons. Sorry to be a bad news carrier on this too, but it comes with the territory. 65Appendix VAgenda for Presentation of the Apology 1. Opening Prayer - Nuu-Chah-Nulth Elder2. Welcome from the House of Shewish - George Watts3. St Andrew’s recognize the House of Shewish (George Watts) and Opetchesaht (Hugh Watts)with the presentation of blankets. John [Mayba] speaking - Stephen [Mayba] and Amos topresent blankets4. Address the Chiefs then the Tribal Council then the former students and other guests:Fred Bishop - “On behalf of the congregation of St Andrew’s United Church I bring ourgreetings to all gathered here today. Those who are foremost in our hearts this day, with whomwe wish to communicate most directly, are all of you whose lives today, and in the past, havebeen affected by the Alberni Residential School. We have learned much in our congregation,much we did not know, and what we have learned has brought us to this day. We come withsorrowful hearts. We come knowing that there is a great need for healing in our relationship. Wecome to try in some way to let you know how deeply we feel regret for the pain the UnitedChurch of Canada’s actions have inflicted on so many people’s lives.We also greet and recognize the Ha-Wee-a, the leadership of the First nations and theNuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, the members of the First Nations represented here, and otherguests. We would like to begin by briefly sharing the learning process that has brought us heretoday.”5. Present how the apology came to be: 1. Discussion Group Begins: Anne Gray“In January of 1996, the Official Board of St Andrew’s United Church decided toinitiate a discussion group to gain an understanding of the issue of Residential Schools.The first discussion was held January 20, 1996.We had watched in horror as the crimes committed by Arthur Henry Plint wererevealed in open court. Many were shocked and indeed dumbfounded that such terriblethings happened here. There was a desire to know more about Residential Schools andwhat happened there.We studied information from the Church including: the United Church brief to the“Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples”, information on the newly established66“Healing Fund” to assist First Nations communities in working toward healing, the textand rationale of the “1986 United Church Apology to Native Congregations” and the“Report of the Moderator’s Taskgroup on Residential Schools”. The group ofapproximately 25 people gathered monthly sharing information and welcoming guestspeakers.”2. Guests: Kristi Lewis“The people we welcomed as guest speakers included:John Siebert from the National Offices of the United Church of CanadaGaye Sharpe and Keith Howard: from the office of the Conference of British Columbia ofthe United Church  Charlie Thompson, his wife Maude, and his sister Amy Campbell allof whom attended Alberni Residential School. Charlie used material from the NativeIndian Residential School Task Force Presentation, and all three shared their ownpersonal experiences.”3. Moderator’s Visit: Terry Whyte“In May of 1996 we were visited by Ginny Coleman who is the ExecutiveSecetary of the General Council of the United Church of Canada and Marion Best who isthe Moderator of the United Church of Canada. They met with representatives of theNuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council and later with members of the congregation of StAndrew’s. Our conversation with them and with members of the First Nationscommunities led us to the realization that our thoughts and beliefs had to be expressed asa formal apology.”4. Apology Draft: Sue Comeau“The Residential Schools Discussion group began the drafting of an apology thatwould reflect our learning from our many months of meeting. We met three times honingthe draft and shared it with First Nations people to see if it was a document which wouldbe acceptable to them. On Friday, January 24, 1997 we met with: Richard Watts, NelsonKeitlah, Cliff Atleo, Charlie Thompson, Ron Hamilton, Marie Rush, Delores Seitcher andGeraldine Allwark to see if the document was acceptable to them. We were grateful fortheir input and encouragement.”5. Congregational Approval: Bernadette Wyton“The congregation of St Andrew’s United Church approved the Apology aspresented to them on February 2 , 1997 with no dissenting votes. It was felt at that timend67that all levels of the United Church should be encouraged to offer an apology regardingResidential Schools and so St Andrew’s United Church sent a petition through theChurch courts requesting that the National Church issue a similar apology. The Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery, represented here today by the Chair Rev. Jim Massey and othermembers of the executive, voted to concur with this petition on February 15, 1997, andthe Conference of British Columbia, represented here today by its President, DianeCardin and other dignitaries, will consider the petition this week at its Annual Meeting.Hopefully General Council, which represents the whole national United Church, willissue a similar statement when it meets in August 1997.”6. Presentation of the Apology: Kathy [Hogman - minister of St Andrew’s]“We stand before you today to offer this apology from our hearts.An Apology From St. Andrew’s United ChurchTo First Nations People For Harm Caused By“Indian” Residential SchoolsWe wish to address the issue of the continuing damage caused  by the former United Church “Indian” residential schools. We know this damage takes many forms. Emotional and psychological scarring, social deprivation, and undermining of family and culture have all been identified as destructive elements of the racially segregated schools. Without a doubt the schools were intended to facilitate assimilation. The practical effect was to alienate young people from their families and their culture, resulting in hopelessness, confusion, anger and self-hatred - all of which fire oppressive cycles including a whole range of personal and social abuses.Beyond the arrogance of assimilation there were the additional personaltragedies experienced by victims of physical and sexual abuse. The repercussions of these tragedies continue to haunt not only the victimsthemselves but entire families and communities.Some of the facts about “Indian” residential schools have become clear.In trying to come to terms with them we hereby acknowledge and confess that many wrongs were committed in the name of the United Church68under that system. We confess the past complicity of our church with thedominant culture of the day and with the federal government inperpetrating these injustices for so long. We acknowledge, as well,that those damages continue to transfer grief and violence into First Nations family, social, and cultural life. We of today’s United Church apologize for these things.We respect the integrity, strength, and hope nurtured by so many FirstNations people. In the same spirit, we recognize and celebrate the healing process that is already alive, bringing with it the reclamationof dignity and wholeness. This apology is not meant to be an end but a springboard moving us into the new energy of courage and commitment needed in the task of rebuilding. Our hope is that it will further the healing process in native communities and add to the spirit of reconciliation. Song: Kristi [Lewis] and Luke once, Choir once in unison, group 1 start, add group 2, add group3, sing the whole song through twice and then quieten down and Mike [Lewis] will startpresentations.8. We wish to offer our apology to those members of the __________ First Nation, present andpast, who suffered within the Alberni Residential School. We present this plaque to theleadership of your First Nation so that it may publicly witness to our sorrow for the suffering theUnited Church of Canada contributed to you, your families and your communities and our hopethat our relationship may one day find healing.Presentation of the framed text of the apology - to be given to the Elected Chiefs or designates.Kyuquot - Grannemans Ehattesaht - Spencers Nuchatlaht - David HooperMowachaht/Muchalaht - Warrender Hesquiaht - VataminuikAhousaht - Whytes Tla-o-qui-aht - Parks  Ucluelet - WytonsToquaht - Ronalds Uchuckleshat - Comeaus Ohiaht - RobertsonDididaht - Maybas Opetshesaht - Bishops Tseshaht - Houles Darlene(Hupacasatht)Tribal Council - Mike Lewis9. Invite the Nuu-Chah-Nulth peoples and guests to break bread together in the spirit andtraditions of both our people - Mike Lewis Many copies throughout Terry Whyte’s notebook.1106910. Nuu-Chah-Nulth response to the apology11. Presentations: MCs - Mike [Lewis] and John [Mayba]a. Three blankets - Lillian Howard, Richard Watts, Nelson Keithlah - Ester and family b. Tree - representing new possibilities Bernie [Wyton]c. Gift of Money - to further the preservation of language - Shirley [Whyte]We of the congregation of St Andrew’s Church understand that the loss of language is one of the great tragedies cause by having generations of children in ResidentialSchools. We know that language is necessary to the continuing strength and life of any culture. We also know that you have committed yourselves to the teaching andpreservation of language. We offer this gift of money. [$3,000]Our hope is that it will help in your effort to restore the language, and with it the richtraditions and customs of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth.d. Witness recognition [It is a very important custom of many coastal peoples, includingthe Nuu-Chah-Nulth, that a gift of money is given to people present as a payment for theirwitness to what has occurred at the feast or potlatch. The amount is usually nominal, perhaps adollar or two dollars.] - Mike Lewis with help from Jack Little and Nelson [Keitlah] - Membersof our congregation will take it to the appropriate people.12. Wrap up in preparation for meal. Nelson Keitlah13. Eating14. Speeches and introductions - Nelson [Keitlah] and Kathy [Hogman] to arrange for each side.15. Parting words - Nelson and KathyThe speaking will be on the west end of the gym [Maht Mahs, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth TribalCouncil gathering hall - part of the old Alberni Indian Residential School still in use] Peoplesinging and speaking should try and arrange themselves in the vicinity of this end of the gym.There will be microphones, some of which will be roving mikes so there should be no problemwith audio.110 A copy from Terry Whyte’s notebook, section Two, The St. A Apology (I attempted to111contact Claire Hunston for permission to use this addenda, but was unable to find her. Thisaddenda was circulated to participants at the Residential School Workers event at VancouverSchool of Theology on March 13, 2000)70Appendix VIFor participants Mar. 13/2000In May of 1997, when St. Andrew’s United in Port Alberni invited the First Nations people to a feast at which they made their apology to them, I [Claire Hunston] wrotethe following:An Addenda to the Apology: May, 1997We do, however, wish to acknowledge the grief of many who worked in these schools (and later, hostels or residences) as sincere, dedicated individualswho gave their best years to the education of the children, often working against the mainstream to alleviate what they considered to be too confined or too strict regimens or too harsh treatment. Not all of these inflicted abuse; in fact, they gave extra time and energy to provide extra-curricular events and outings for the children,and they provided love and warmth and encouragement where there was littleopportunity for the children to experience these within the system. Often, too, thiswas done by people who loved their jobs despite the very low wages which the church offered.These people have been made to feel guilty by the sins of a few and theyare also in need of a healing touch that says they are free of the shame placed upon them. We ask that First Nations People allow them to be absolved and weask that the church include them in the healing process, so that all may be reconciledto each other. To that end, the healing between/among nations may have theopportunity to flourish. /CHWith this gathering of former workers [at Vancouver School of Theology] at least theportion of ‘inclusion for healing’ is happening. We may have to wait longer yet for theabsolution from the First Nations people. / Claire Hunston  111 [The Reverends] Phillip Spencer and Foster Freed,  PQ [Parksville-Qualicum] News112Faith Column, no date,  typewritten copy attached to John Siebert’s Memorandum Sept 10-11,1997 71Appendix VIIEarlier this year members of St Andrew’s United Church in Port Alberni took a first step inworking toward healing by offering an apology to First Nations people who experienced abuse atthe church run school. Following their lead, the next larger courts of the church, the Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery and then the British Columbia Conference of the United Church grappledwith the issue and agreed on the need for a formal apology for the wrongs committed. Finally, theGeneral Council met in Camrose in August and United Church representatives from across thenation had the opportunity to consider this issue among a host of other concerns. The GeneralCouncil chose, however, not to issue an apology. Rather, it reiterated a 1986 apology for churchattempts at assimilation, expressed regrets for injustices done and for the church role in theresidential school system, and “to consider means to express our repentance.” An apology was notoffered at this time out of concern that it could lead to enormous financial awards from law suits.The church can repent it seems, but we cannot yet apologize.While using the theological language of repentance is most appropriate in the church, theresult of this reticence about an apology, coupled with the church’s recent third party lawsuitagainst the Federal government, gives the impression of fearfulness at best and lack of integrity atworst. The Biblical understanding of repentance has everything to do with a sharp change ofdirection, of doing a 180 degree turn. It is ultimately about returning to God. If we in the churchare going to return to God, then the first step, the smallest step we can take is to apologize to thosewe have injured.We do not offer this opinion without significant sense of struggle. We care deeply for ourdenomination and we know that the General Council’s decision was certainly made with the bestof intentions. But if there is anything that we have learned from our experience with theResidential School system it is this: good intentions and fine motives are not, aswe consider our errors of the past, we need to risk doing the right thing. We need to say we aresorry.112 Handwritten notes dated 98-09-21 in Terry Whyte’s notebook, Section III, General113Council Visit 98-09-21 and follow up.72Appendix VIIIThe six questions directed to General Council Executive for the September 21, 1998 meeting.Although our apology was received and acknowledged at the highest level in the church nosignificant action was taken to complete the process and affirm our move. Instead, the energy andattention of the national church was usurped by the courtroom. This has spoken louder than ourwords.We have been waiting to meet with you and learn how you see things. We have been waiting tohave some of our concerns addressed such as:1. The courtroom behaviour of the people representing the UCC in the first Nanaimohearings was not helpful to the process and inflicted further pain on many of the plaintiffs.Can we not expect the same kind of presence in a courtroom as we would from eachother?2. We would like to understand your “theological reflections” and your “multi-faceteddecision” to proceed with an appeal. How does this relate to the stand the church will takeon actual liability?3. How can the church consider an apology or statement of repentance with regards to harmdone to native people in residential schools when it contends it was not really responsibleor liable for same?4. What happened to the General Council decision to issue a statement of repentance? Whosedecision was it to withhold or delay the distribution? Hasn’t that decision and what hastaken place since rendered the process meaningless?5. Many people have asked “Why is the General Council Executive visiting you now? Solate? What could their motives be at this late stage in the game?6. Other general concerns have to do with issues like our lack of communication over the lastfew years on this subject and the secrecy around your decision making process.113 United Church Apology for complicity in the Indian Residential School System, 1998.114Delivered by Moderator the Right Reverend William Phipps. 73Appendix IXUnited Church Apology for Complicity in the Indian Residential School System“I am here today as Moderator of the United Church of Canada to speak the wordsthat many people have wanted to hear for a very long time. On behalf of theUnited Church of Canada I apologize for the pain and suffering that our church’sinvolvement in the Indian Residential School system has caused. We are aware ofsome of the damage that this cruel and ill-conceived system of assimilation hasperpetrated on Canada’s First Nations peoples. For this we are truly and mosthumbly sorry.To those individuals who were physically, sexually and mentally abused asstudents of the Indian Residential Schools in which The United Church of Canadawas involved, I offer you our most sincere apology. You did nothing wrong. Youwere and are the victims of evil acts that cannot under any circumstances bejustified or excused. We pray that you will hear the sincerity of our words todayand that you will witness the living out of this apology in our actions in the future.We know that many within our church will still not understand why each of usmust bear the scar, the blame for this horrendous period in Canadian history. Butthe truth is we are the bearers of many blessings from our ancestors, and thereforewe must also bear their burdens. We must now seek ways of healing ourselves, aswell as our relationships with First Nations peoples. This apology is not an end initself. We are in the midst of a long and painful journey. A journey that beganwith the United Church’s Apology of 1986, to our Statement of Repentance of1997 and now moving to this apology with regard to Indian Residential Schools.As Moderator of the United Church of Canada I urge each and every member ofthe church, to reflect on these issues and to join us as we travel this difficult roadof repentance, reconciliation and healing.”114 Delivered by Moderator the Right Reverend Robert Smith, 31  General Council,115 stAugust 15, 1986.74Appendix XApology of the 31  General Council to Native Congregationsst“Long before my people journeyed to this land, your people were here, and youreceived from your Elders an understanding of Creation, and of the Mystery, thatsurrounds us all that was deep, and rich, and to be treasured.We did not hear you when you shared your vision. In our zeal to tell you the goodnews of Jesus Christ, we were closed to the value of your spirituality.We confused Western ways and culture with the depth and breadth and length andheight of the gospel of Christ.We imposed our civilization as a condition of accepting the gospel.We tried to make you like us and in doing so we helped to destroy the vison thatmade you what you were. As a result, you, and we, are poorer, and the image ofthe Creation in us is twisted, blurred, and we are not what we are meant by God tobe.We ask you to forgive us and to walk together with us in the Spirit of Christ sothat our peoples may be blessed and God’s Creation healed.” 115 A list of people who attended the Indian Residential School meetings at St Andrew’s, 116January 23, February 21, April 9, May 2, May 23, June 13, June 25, 1996. From Terry Whyte’snotebook, “Our Meetings.” * indicates only attended one session.75Appendix XIMembers of St Andrew’s United Church, Port Alberni, BC who participated inthe study and Apology to First Nations, 1996-97116Lois AndowFred Bishop* Gordie BrandSue ComeauFred ComeauJohanna Dutton*Yvonne ForbesBeate GrannemanHenny GrannemanAnne GrayRon GrayEster HaackNorah HarachBev Herd*Glen HerdKathy Hogman*Armand HouleJoan JacobsonMike Lewis*Barb MartinJohn MaybaDiane MaybaJoan ParksDavid Parks*Shirley RodgersDave RonaldsRosemary RonaldsEd SpencerMyrtle SpencerJack ThornburghVal ThornberShirley Whyte  Terry WhyteBernadette Wyton*Sherella Wyton *Keith Wyton*Ira Wyton76


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