We acknowledge that Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship meets and worships on the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the (Kwikwetlem First Nation), which lies within the shared territories of the Tsleil-Waututh, Katzie, Musqueam, Qayqayt, Squamish, and Sto’:lo Nations. These peoples continue to live on the lands and care for them, along with the waters and all that is above and below.
Moving Towards Reconciliation
We acknowledge the long, complex history and current relationships between the Mennonite Church as an institution, and its workers, and the Indigenous peoples of what we now call Canada.
We recognize that while some European settlers came as powerful conquerors, others came as desperate people fleeing poverty and oppression. This is the story of many Mennonites and other immigrants to Canada, who were often violently displaced from their own lands, communities, and families. Arriving in a new land with the hope of starting a new life free from oppression, we became part of another story of dispossession, of which we were initially unaware, and later often chose to ignore. As settlers who became part of the mainstream of society, Mennonites benefited directly or indirectly at the expense of Indigenous people, and assimilated prejudices that gave rise to the residential schools and other abuses of Indigenous people.
We regret our part in the assimilation practice that took away language use and cultural practice, separated child from parent, parent from child, and Indigenous peoples from their culture.
We deeply regret that, at times, the Christian faith was used, wrongly, as an instrument of power, not as an invitation to see how God was already at work before we came. We regret that some leaders within the Church abused their power and those under their authority.
We acknowledge the paternalism and racism of the past. As members of a Mennonite Brethren Church, we acknowledge that we have work to do in addressing paternalism and racism both within our community and in the broader public.
We repent of our denomination’s encounters with Indigenous Peoples that at times may have been motivated more by cultural biases than by the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. We repent of our failure to advocate for marginalized Indigenous Peoples as our faith would instruct us to.
At the same time, we know also that we have enjoyed honesty and warmth in friendships with Indigenous people and communities. We are deeply grateful for the forgiveness and resilience of Indigenous neighbours and friends who have persisted with us through this complicated history and relationships.
We are aware that we have a long path to walk. We hope to build relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis persons and communities so that we can continue this learning journey and walk this path together.
We are followers of Jesus Christ, the great reconciler. We are aware that words without actions are not only ineffective but may also be harmful. We commit ourselves to take the challenges brought to us by our Indigenous neighbours very seriously. We will seek to model the reconciling life and work of Jesus in seeking reconciliation with you. We will strive to reach out in practical and loving ways, including dialogue and expressions of hospitality.
In keeping with this commitment, and in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, particularly #48 and #49, we repudiate concepts used to justify European superiority over Indigenous peoples, such as the Doctrine of Discovery. Such concepts of superiority, coercion, violence, and abuse are opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the inherent dignity and equality we believe all people have received from God.
The purpose of ERBF is to show love to all, share the hope we have in Jesus with those who are seeking, and strengthen the faith of those who share that hope. We desire that all people be in right relationship with God, with each other, and with creation. In our ongoing efforts to seek right relations with our Indigenous neighbours, we also commit ourselves to using the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a guide for right relations and reconciliation. We affirm the principles of self-determination, equality and respect embedded in this Declaration, and commit ourselves anew to the ministry of reconciliation entrusted to us by Jesus Christ, the great reconciler.
We know that these words and commitments do not undo harm, nor do they ensure a path of respect and equality going forward. We still have much to learn and are working to understand more fully the meaning and impacts of both the Doctrine of Discovery and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We are already at work discerning what other words and actions are needed from us. We are thankful for the accompaniment of Indigenous partners and teachers in this learning and discernment. We welcome the accountability of our congregants, Indigenous partners, and others, in living up to this statement with integrity, and with which we intend to herald a more hopeful, respectful, and just time in our friendships and partnerships with Indigenous peoples.