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The Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights began with a 600 km walk from Kitchener to Ottawa in support of the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Comprised mostly of Christians, our hope was to embody a tangible response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, specifically Call #48 which summons all churches to learn about the Declaration, facilitate public dialogue around it, and embrace its minimum standards.

The first part of the Pilgrimage is done. But the Pilgrimage is far from over. Walkers and church communities continue to raise awareness of the Declaration and mobilize on behalf of Bill C-262 (a private members bill that would ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the Declaration).

We invite you to join in the movement:

  • Organize a teach-in on the Declaration.
  • Pray.
  • Write and visit your Member of Parliament.
  • Create a local one-day walk in support of Bill C-262.
  • Follow the Pilgrimage’s work via Facebook and Instagram.
  • Offer words of encouragement.
  • Give a donation to support and build the movement.

The Pilgrimage Planning Team

Chuck Wright, Erin Froese, Kathy Moorhead Thiessen, Steve Heinrichs

Pilgrimage Carries On

hand holding a post card "Lets Walk the Talk of Reconciliation. Support Bill C-262
Walk the Talk Postcard

We are 46 days away from the 10 year anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As Canadians, we have 46 articles of the Declaration to learn and write on our hearts.

We’re taking action to encourage all elected officials and ask them to support Bill C-262, “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” We’re inviting you to join in. There are pre-printed postcards available for just the cost of postage and can be ordered from CommonWord. If you’re not sure what to say, you can also download a list of suggested messages.

Or, if you want to write a letter instead of sending the postcard, you can do that too. Here’s a list of Members of Parliament to help you find MPs in your area. Postage to MPs is free. We do encourage handwritten letters, as those are more likely to carry weight than emails or other electronic forms of communication.

people at a table signing cards
Postcard Party @ Hope Mennonite

Host a table at your local gathering place (church, community centre, etc.) when you know there will be lot’s of folks around and hold a little Postcard Party. The more the merrier!

Lifting Hearts Off the Ground

book cover, orange with silhouette of trees at the bottom
Lifting Hearts Off the Ground

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a powerful proclamation of the principles that should guide Indigenous-Settler relations around the world. Some call it a blueprint for reconciliation. Some say that, if taken seriously, it could help states and Settler societies repair significant historic injustices and reject present colonialism. Yet as a legal text, it’s not the easiest document to read or to imagine into action.

In Lifting Hearts Off the Ground, two poets — one Indigenous, one Settler — come together to breathe life into the seemingly dry bones of the Declaration. And as we contemplate, wrestle with, and pray their words, we discover an invitation to renewed relationships with each other, the land, and Spirit. Thank you to Lyla June Johnston, and Pilgrimage walkers Joy De Vito and Leah ProudLakota Gazan who put together this book of inspiration.

Published by Mennonite Church Canada and available through CommonWord.

New! Pilgrimage Video Documentary

With gratitude to the walkers, host communities, and above all, the many grassroots Indigenous peoples who have actively struggled for the recognition of their basic human rights, we offer up this video documentary that shares the experiences of the 600 km Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. The walk may be finished, but the work of raising awareness of and respect for Indigenous human rights is not over. Here’s how to help make this video continue to work toward our goal (short teaser version to come):

  • Share it widely on social media and in your communities; host a showing and follow-up conversation.
  • Encourage the elected officials in your region to watch this video and follow-up with a request to meet and discuss it.
  • Share it with your church family, pastor, your family, and your childrens’ schools.
  • If you have connections with elected officials, try and arrange a showing on Parliament Hill.
  • Share it with the media in your area, especially if you have media connections.

Many thanks to Brad Leitch of Rebel Sky Media for his excellent work on this production.

Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights: Join the effort

by Deborah Froese; April 26, 2017; Mennonite Church Canada
Winnipeg, Man

PFIR walker Kandace Boos is travelling with her 9-month-old daughter, Junia. An urban artist, Boos plans to document the journey in art. Photo supplied.

The Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights (PFIR) draws to a close on May 13, but even when the event is over, there are several ways to keep the objective of the initiative alive.

And what exactly is that objective? Ensuring that Indigenous peoples are guaranteed the same basic human rights enjoyed by others living in Canada – from houses and running water to education.

To this end, the Pilgrimage, a 600 km trek from Kitchener to Ottawa, Ont., is advocating for the adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The Declaration provides the foundation for healing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Implementing it is one of the 94 Calls to Action issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in their final report. Continue reading “Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights: Join the effort”

Teach-in at Ottawa Mennonite Church

All are invited to a Teach-in at Ottawa Mennonite Church, 1830 Kilborn Ave., on Saturday, May 13, from 7 – 9 pm. Guest speakers include Elder Barbara Dumont-Hill, Elder Rarihokwats, MP Romeo Saganash, Leah Gazan, and the Pilgrimage walkers. Come for a gentle and rich time of exploration and discovery about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), what authentic reconciliation looks like, and Bill C-262 (an Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).

News Summary

It’s May 5, and the Pilgrimage continues to attract media attention. Below is a summary of what we’ve found so far. The Pilgrimage invites you to call up your local media coverage and encourage coverage leading up to and including the Walk the Talk rally at Human Rights Monument in Ottawa on Saturday, May 13, 2 pm.