From Apology Toward
Reconciliation A litany to mark the
30th Anniversary of the Apology by Susan Beaver
This litany and story are based on the memories of the Very
Rev. Stanley McKay and others who took part in the earliest
national Aboriginal ministries consultations in the 1980s. An
effort has been made to give Indigenous people the deserved
dignity of being named in this history. An attempt has also
been made to accurately reflect the history.
One: Loving God, we are your church, practising your love,
justice, and peace in the world.
All: Guide us by your Holy Spirit.
One: You gave us the commandment to love and a teacher
All: Guide us and build us up for the journey.
One: We the church did not always realize how we were
breaking the commandment and brought spiritual, social,
political, economic, cultural, emotional, and physical suffering upon Indigenous peoples in Canada.
All: Wake us up and guide us in the way forward,
One: Indigenous peoples are resilient. You remain faithful,
giving them strength and courage.
All: Help us to bring our faith and our strength together.
One: In 1980, the faithful from Native pastoral charges from
across Canada, with the support of the whole church, held
national consultations to gather, share stories, organize,
identify needs, find their voice, and to listen to Elders like
Gladys Taylor, Lavina Day, Jessie Saulteaux, Gordon Woods,
Gordon Steinhauer, and Dora Benson.
All: We give thanks for the work of your Spirit in your
people and in your church.
One: At the first consultation in 1980 in White Bear,
Saskatchewan, the Indigenous people asked the non-Indigenous people to leave the consultation for a time because
they did all the talking and drowned out the voices of the
All: Help us now to speak with, and listen to, one another
in good ways.
One: The Indigenous people formed the National Native
Council, including Thelma Davis, Alberta Billy, Floyd
Steinhauer, Gordon Berens, Murray Whetung, and Emily
Oake; and hired Stan McKay as a national coordinator to do
the work of the consultations between meetings.
All: We give thanks that you called good and faithful
servants to your church.
One: The Native Council learned and followed the process
and protocols of the church, which depended on written
reports. In March 1985, the Council’s report to the General
Council Executive recommended several important steps,
including the formation of All Native Circle Conference and
training leadership from First Nations communities.
All: Inspire us with your vision now, as you did then.
One: The Council chose Alberta Billy and Thelma Davis to
lead the Executive through the Council’s report. As they
were about to enter the meeting, Alberta turned to Stan
McKay and said, “I think I’m going to ask them for an
All: We give thanks for the prophets you send among us
and for the persistence of the women.
One: Alberta’s request was shocking. The request for an
apology wasn’t in the report. It was never discussed in the
Council. The need for an apology was just in her mind and
in her heart. Stan said to her, “If that’s what you need to do,
then you need to do it.”
All: Continue, we pray, to send your Holy Spirit among us,
to startle us and move us in the direction of your justice.
One: The Executive, who were caught off guard, responded
with utter confusion. The Indigenous people did not know
how Alberta would be received. Alberta’s request was out of
order and not on the agenda. Yet the Executive were moved
to respect her request and decided to work seriously on a
All: We give thanks for your spirit prodding us.
One: And so the church formed a working group that
included Alberta and Stan to present the request to the 1986
General Council in Sudbury. The group created print materials to educate the church, even as they wondered if anyone
cared, or read them. They lived for a year and a half, preparing yet uncertain.
All: Continue to give us the perseverance to serve justice,
and open our hearts to follow your prompting.