A number of Canadian faith communities, including the Baha’i Community of Canada, have responded positively to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action. In a “Statement on the Importance of Truth and Reconciliation and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, the Canadian Interfaith Conversation responded formally to the Commission’s 48th “Call to Action” addressed to Canada’s religious and interfaith communities, asking that they respond by March 31st.
The statement reads, “The Canadian Interfaith Conversation gathers faith community representatives who believe that people of faith can contribute positively to the benefit of all people in Canadian society… The goal of bringing about a society where people of any or no faith can flourish together is a primary orienting concern of this interfaith conversation. Reconciliation with people of the First Nations has also been a core value of our Charter Vision since we first came together under that Vision in 2012.”
The statement notes that among the more than 40 members of the Interfaith Conversation, “We recognize the particular moment we are in, one of working for greater truth and reconciliation between aboriginal peoples in Canada and later arrivals. This situation calls us to a deeper understanding of past wrongs and shared future hopes for living in harmony together. Reconciliation is, fundamentally, a spiritual process that needs to be accomplished first in the hearts of Canadians.”
In addition to the Interfaith Conversation’s intention to study the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People as a framework for reconciliation, the statement commits the participants “to devoting time at each of our meetings to speak with one another and with Indigenous brothers and sisters, to encourage our members to pursue the Calls to Action [of the Commission} in their own communities, and to speak publicly as occasions arise.”
The Baha’i Community of Canada has been an active participant in the Canadian Interfaith Conversation www.interfaithconversation.ca since it was formed following the international meeting of religious leaders in 2010 at the time of the G8/G20 meetings in Canada. Those active in the Conversation had worked together successfully to host that international meeting, and so they decided to formalize their relationship in what has become a successful national interfaith initiative, the most representative interfaith body in Canada. The current Chair of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation is the Baha’i representative, Dr. Gerald Filson.
You can read the original Submission to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada at: Truth and Reconciliation Submission. And you can view the film, “The Path Home”, a commentary on the Residential School tragedy and the spiritual path we all must take to be faithful to the remarkable work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The film was first screened in Ottawa on the eve of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Closing Event, May 2015: The Path Home.