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Home News ‘An opportunity to listen’: Archbishop of Canterbury arrives in Saskatchewan

‘An opportunity to listen’: Archbishop of Canterbury arrives in Saskatchewan

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‘An opportunity to listen’: Archbishop of Canterbury arrives in Saskatchewan
Switzerland, Geneva; 16 Feb. 2018 .On the occasion of the World Council of Churches 70th anniversary the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, visited the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva The Archbishop offered a lecture on the theme: "Ecumenical Spring: from Negotiated Frontiers to Open Borders."

The head of the Anglican Church has arrived in the Prince Albert area to spend two days meeting with Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors.

The Most Rev. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, will attend gatherings on James Smith Cree Nation on Saturday before preaching at St. Alban’s Anglican Cathedral in Prince Albert on Sunday. He will then attend a public gathering organized by the Prince Albert Grand Council at 2 p.m. on May 1 inside the Prince Albert Exhibition main hall.

“This is a rare and significant event,” PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte said. “It is not often that the Archbishop of Canterbury comes to our territories. This visit will be an important day for all Indigenous peoples throughout the country, because of its significance in achieving true reconciliation.”

Welby released a prepared statement calling the visit an “opportunity to listen, to lament, and to pray for justice, healing, and transformation” in the relationships between Indigenous peoples and the Church of England.

Hardlotte said Indigenous people here in Canada felt relieved when the Anglican Church acknowledged and apologized for their role in the residential school system. He said the Archbishop’s visit is a strong sign of the Church’s commitment to righting a historic wrong.

Welby will also have a chance to hear stories and concerns from former residential school students. The Prince Albert event will include and honour song, and a gift presentation.

Hardlotte said he hopes the first-hand testimonials will create a deeper understanding about what went on at residential schools.

“Hearing only comes when our truths are voice and validated,” he said. “There is still much more work to be done, and I pray that these testimonials will help the survivors find peace and move us toward a more positive path of true reconciliation.”

Welby’s visit coincides with the Anglican Church’s 50th Session of Provincial Synod, which runs from Apr. 28 to May 1 in Prince Albert. The theme is “Truth and Reconciliation: Our Journey Towards Freedom in Christ.” Delegates from the three prairie provinces, as well as the Northwest Territory and Nunavut will be in attendance.

Welby will travel to James Smith Cree Nation today to meet with leaders and former students at Bernard Constant Community School. The event will include a pipe ceremony, opening prayer, reading of the Gospel, story sharing from former students, and a community tour.

“A significant purpose of this visit is therefore to repent and atone for where our relationships and actions have done more harm than good—and to honour the sovereignty of Indigenous communities,” Welby said in a prepared statement. “This visit will be an opportunity to listen.”

Former residential school students who suffer anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns from their experiences can call the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program at 1-866-925-4419.