people from the surrounding communities joined the circle
and doubled the number who were waiting. They did not
know what the church would decide to do. The waiting was
All: What a blessing it is to see the circle grow larger and
stronger. May it continue to widen.
One: Elders Edith Memnook, Murray Whetung, Stanley
McKay Sr., Dora Benson, Rev. Dr. Johnson Garrioch, and
others waited in a tipi near the fire. They were called to
be the first to receive the response from the Moderator on
behalf of The United Church of Canada.
All: It is hard to wait and live with uncertainty. Give us
strength, hope, and patience now as you did then.
One: Most of the General Council followed the Moderator
down the hill and joined the people at the sacred fire.
Hundreds of people were now gathered. After the Moderator
met with the elders, he came to the sacred fire and the
people and spoke the words of the apology:
All: Long before my people journeyed to this land your
peoples were here, and you received from your Elders an
understanding of creation and of the Mystery that surrounds 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 of the good news of Jesus Christ we were
closed to the value of your spirituality.
One: The Native Council instructed organizers to bring
a drum to the sacred fire in Sudbury so the people might
dance and greet the apology together.
All: We give thanks for the heartbeat of life.
One: The Indigenous people were not certain. Some asked,
“What if they don’t apologize?” The people did not know if
they would be heard. But affirming hope and the call to a
task that might fail, the Elders said, “It doesn’t matter. We
All: Continue to send your prophets among us to encourage us always.
One: In 1986, about 80 Indigenous people gathered in
Sudbury for the national Aboriginal Ministries Consultation
alongside the General Council. Members of the consultation
spoke to the court: “We are asking for this apology from
the church.” Then they left the meeting and invited the
Indigenous commissioners to join them at the sacred fire
All: We stand in the silence with only you to hold us, Holy
One: Eighty from the consultation and a dozen Indigenous
commissioners gathered by the sacred fire on a cloudy day.
Anishnawbe Elders Art Solomon and Jim Dumont offered
teachings and led the people in prayer. By dusk, Indigenous
Former Moderator Stan McKay.