The October 28 meeting of Diocesan Council held via Zoom featured a very full agenda. A prominent item was the motion to accept the recommendations of the Resolution 5 Advisory Group which was moved by the Treasurer, Bob Hardy, ODNW and seconded by Archdeacon Richard Leggett. The motion would lead to the transfer of 50% of the 2019 investment income of the Diocesan Mission Endowment Fund ($787,616) to the Indigenous Ministry Fund. This will result in a fund of approximately $1, 460,000 which will be used to fund up to $35,000 per year for use by the Native Education College (NEC) and continue to support the salary of the Diocesan Indigenous Justice Missioner.
The second section of the resolution proposes that Diocesan Council authorizes the creation of a NEC working group made up of the Diocese’s Indigenous Justice Missioner, the Bishop, representatives from NEC and up to two other Diocesan representatives who will work to develop a relationship between the Diocese and NEC. Guided by the NEC representatives the group will jointly work on the use of the yearly contribution to NEC and will assess the effectiveness of this developing relationship over time and report back to Diocesan Council.
The Resolution 5 Advisory Group consisting of Archbishop Melissa Skelton, Mr. Bob Hardy, ODNW, Treasurer of the Diocese, Nii K’an Kwsdins [Mr. Jerry Adams], (now retired as of September 30, 2020) Indigenous Justice Missioner for the Diocese, Ms. Susanne Stockdill, ODNW (St. Catherine, Capilano), Ms. Tegan Smith (Christ Church Cathedral) and the Venerable Luisito Engnan, Archdeacon of Fraser met regularly throughout 2020.
Jerry Adams and Susanne Stockdill were in attendance via Zoom at the October 28 meeting and spoke to Council about how the Advisory Group had arrived at the recommendations.
At the invitation of Archbishop Skelton, Jerry addressed Council. He began by thanking Archbishop Skelton and the Group members “for being so inclusive of the opinions of Indigenous people.” Jerry affirmed that the major problem with Resolution 5 as presented and subsequently passed at Synod 2019 was that Indigenous people were not consulted about the content of the motion. Additionally, neither Jerry in his Diocesan role as Missioner for Indigenous Justice Ministry nor Archbishop Skelton as Chair of Synod were consulted. Jerry said, “Indigenous people really need to have others come to them and find out what their needs are.”
Exploring connections and building relationships was always part of the Advisory Group’s strategy and although there were a number of conversations with leaders involved in other important initiatives that were certainly worthy of recommendation to Council, the Native Education College resonated most strongly with the Group.
Here are some edited sections from the Precis (the full Precis is available linked here and for downloading below) presented to Council with the Resolution:
“When the Group began exploring a potential partnership with the Native Education College (learning about NEC, conversing with the President of NEC, Dan Guinan and hearing about the many needs there) the Group had a powerful experience that suggested that NEC was the right partner for us.
- NEC is all about Indigenous people working with Indigenous people.
- NEC provides a culturally supportive environment for learning. Elders and others are there to mentor students.
- NEC’s mission inspires us: “We are in the transformation business” (Dan Guinan) NEC prepares students who work throughout our diocese and region.
- NEC serves the working poor.
- NEC addresses the barriers that cause students to drop out (e.g. low levels of student confidence, the effects of inter-generational trauma, expenditures that come up on account of the complex needs of Indigenous students)
The Group also discussed at some length that whatever we did alongside NEC needed to be guided by them and offered with “no strings attached”.
After Jerry had spoken, Susanne Stockdill offered a few comments. Susanne said that she knew the original purpose of Resolution 5 was to do good, to help and support Indigenous people, but in the Resolution there was little to no dialogue or a plan to connect and build relationships with Indigenous peoples.
Susanne is confident that the Advisory groups recommendations respect the spirit of Resolution 5 and the development of an ongoing sub-committee is a key part of the future success of this resolution.
After the two guests had spoken, Archbishop Skelton opened the floor for discussion and questions. Immediately a concern was raised that that passing of the resolution being presented would “wash our hands” of the issue without needing to continue to do more. The resolution does not actually address the dollar amount, between $1 and $1.4 million dollars, envisioned by Resolution 5. This change is “vastly removed from the intent of the motion”
Treasurer Bob Hardy disagreed and said that the $787,616 being transferred to the Indigenous Ministry Fund will be increased when needed. Bob said that this is a “starting off”, the beginnings of building indigenous relationships and building a relationship with NEC.
In response to the concern, Archbishop Skelton said that giving a large sum of money was not met by Indigenous leaders with great interest. Relationship and moving forward in relationship are the prime goals.
Executive Archdeacon, the Venerable Douglas Fenton pointed out that this is done without expectations of credit or publicity. “The thanks we get is to be in relationship, we are not looking for recognition for giving a gift. We are recipients of a gift in the relationships we are developing.”
Following the spirited discussion, it was time to call the question and the resolution passed with one abstention.
Passing this resolution, however, did not mean that Archbishop Skelton had given her assent to Resolution 5 passed by Synod. Chancellor George Cadman, ODNW explained that although the motion was passed at Synod, resolutions involving finances without the assent of the bishop remain as a matter to be addressed by Diocesan Council. By withholding assent Resolution 5 remains active and will continue to be addressed by Council and by future Diocesan Councils
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