should do this. By the time of the General Council… we knew
a lot about the history, [but] we didn’t have the real picture
of what colonialism was; we had no idea what was buried
under the label of the residential school.
Now [as a result of the Truth and Reconciliation Com-mission] we know two-thirds of the people in Canada have
an understanding that something happened there. It’s still
a glacial effect for little congregations that don’t want to
hear about this. They’ve heard too much already, but it’s
got to go on because the work of reconciliation has only
PAM: I work to educate the people in the pews who are not
First Nations. And it’s a hard sell with many of them. They
have lots of questions; they have lots of biases. One of the
wonderful tools that I have is a quilt made by an ecumenical group in Peterborough [Ontario] of their reflections after
hearing the stories about residential schools. I can go into
groups and tell stories, and that really connects.
LAWRENCE: Unification has done so much for us where
I can now unite with each and every [one] of you. It’s not
just [me], it’s our Elders also. I can walk into anyone’s services and I’ll be greeted, anyone’s meeting and I’ll be greeted.
Coming here yesterday I was greeted phenomenally by each
and every [one] of you, and that’s what it means.
How has the Apology impacted relationships between
Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in the church?
ALBERTA: Like Lawrence mentioned, unification. With
Pam, [the Apology has] made her aware of a lot of things she
didn’t know. We were fortunate in our village; we had won-
derful United Church ministers that came and they all taught
me something, and I respected them. But at the same time,
my granny said, “Don’t forget your song, don’t forget your
dance, don’t forget your language, don’t forget your name,
don’t forget where you came from.”
They called themselves Christian people, but they were
still very much into spirituality and culture. To me that was
stronger than what the church had to offer us. I wanted to be
accepted for who I was, and for who we all are as Indigenous
When I was at General Council Executive [ 30 years ago],
I didn’t know that there were rules and regulations; I didn’t
know we had to have a resolution. Because it happened way
[it did] I think it was more profound. I remember the reaction
of the people in the room. The older people who had been in
the church for years were really angry that I dared say that.
The younger people were very curious. They wondered why
I said that.
BOB: It has changed glacially. There was curiosity that we
From right, interviewer Sara Stratton with Alberta Billy, Bob Smith, Pam Hart, and Lawrence Sankey.