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Weekly News Summary on Tuesday 15 September

Posted on: September 15, 2020 4:14 PM
Related Categories: Global

We apologise that, because of operational issues, we will not publish a News Summary next week (22 September).

Canada’s residential schools designated of “national historical significance”

[Anglican Journal, by Joelle Kidd] Canada’s federal government has announced that the country’s residential school system would be declared an event of national historical significance, and that two former residential schools – Portage La Prairie Residential School in Manitoba and Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia – would be declared national historic sites.

This step represents official recognition that the harm caused by the residential school system is “a crucial defining part of Canadian history that must be understood and addressed in the present,” the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) stated regarding the announcement.

More than 150,000 First Nation, Inuit and Métis children attended residential schools between the late 1800s and the time of last school’s closure in the 1990s. Many of these students experienced mental, physical or emotional abuse, and thousands died while attending the schools. Government-funded and often church-run, the schools forced students to be separated from their families, communities and cultures in an attempt to assimilate Indigenous cultures; the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) characterised the system in its 2015 report as perpetrating “cultural genocide.”

The designations are in response to the TRC’s Call to Action 79, which asks the federal government “to develop a reconciliation framework for Canadian heritage and commemoration,” including a plan for “commemorating residential school sites, the history and legacy of residential schools, and the contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canada’s history.”

The National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, Mark MacDonald, said that watching the announcement was a surprisingly emotional experience. “I was deeply moved by the announcement, and I was actually surprised by how moved I was,” he said. “To me, the reality of continuing this conversation in the national life of Canada meant something to me – again, I was surprised at how much it meant to me. . . It may not look like much to people, but I am glad that people are continuing to both honour the survivors and also to remember so that nothing like this ever happens again.”

  • Click here to read Joelle Kidd’s full report in the Anglican Journal

Ugandan government to rebuild Anglican church at Ndeeba

President Yoweri Museveni has ordered government officials to implement a compulsory purchase of disputed land at Ndeeba in order to rebuild an Anglican church that was demolished last month. Several people who had been arrested and charged in connection with the demolition have been released on bail pending a trial.

Uganda’s New Vision newspaper reports that President Yoweri visited the site and assured local Christians that the government would rebuild the Church. Uganda’s constitution allows the government to acquire land for public benefit. The paper reports that the government intends to return the land to the Church after it has acquired it.

The demolition took place at the request of businessman Dodoviko Mwanje, who claims to have brought the land from its previous owners. He argues that documents showing that the land had been sold to the Church 40 years earlier were fake.

Mwanje is amongst 24 people facing a range of charges including theft, disobedience of lawful orders and malicious damage to property. If convicted, they face a sentence of between seven and 10 years in prison. They were released on bail last week after paying a cash bond of 2 million Ugandan shillings (approximately £420 GBP). In addition, the suspects had to surrender their passports and agree a surety of 100 million Ugandan shillings (approximately £21,000 GBP).

Western Cape church leaders unite to protest Covid-19 corruption

Church leaders in South Africa’s Western Cape have held a public “silent performance” this afternoon outside St George’s Cathedral, Cape Town, to protest against Covid-19 corruption. It is part of a month-long nationwide campaign against corruption organised by the South African Council of Churches, under the banner “Corruption is not our heritage”.

To comply with Covid-19 lockdown provisions, church leaders set up a rota with five new leaders joining the protest every 20 minutes to ensure that there were never more than the permitted 15 people at any one time.

Technical issues force postponement of Church in Wales Governing Body digital meeting

An online meeting of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body has been adjourned with votes cast at the meeting declared invalid.

In a statement, the Archbishop of Wales, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon John Davies, explained that the decision was taken after the voting system software was found to be faulty.

“Adjourning this meeting is not a decision we have taken lightly but we feel we cannot continue until the technical problems have been solved by our provider. We are not confident that any of the votes that went through in the first session are reliable. We will be looking to reconvene later this year, possible in November."

Archbishop John apologised to members and thanked them for their patience.

The Governing Body - the synod of the Church in Wales - normally meets in person twice a year. This month's meeting was held online because of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.