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Looking Forward: National Indigenous People’s Day

Shannon Perez, the CRC’s Justice and Reconciliation Mobilizer is leaving this team to become the Director of the Indigenous Family Centre in Winnipeg, MB.  The justice team at the CRC is deeply grateful for Shannon’s dedication, wisdom, and skill that she brought to reconciliation in the CRC.  We chat with Shannon about highlights from her time with the Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee and what she’s looking forward to.  

Q: Shannon, you worked as the justice and reconciliation mobilizer in the CRC for 8 years! What is an achievement that stands out from that time?

A: I have worked with really good, genuine sincere people, either staff or members of the church. Meeting with people across the country has been really meaningful.  In terms of an event bringing the KAIROS Blanket Exercise to Synod was also a big highlight. There are too many to name, working on resources like prayer guides, and the youth ambassador of reconciliation program are other things I’m thankful for.  This has been a true learning journey for me.

Q: What growth have you seen in the CRC with regards to reconciliation through your time as the mobilizer?  

A: I sense the CRC realizing that reconciliation can be done in every ministry it has.  Attending the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and sharing expressions and actions of reconciliation at national events was significant.  

Q: Looking forward you’ll still be connected to us as the director of the Indigenous Family Centre in Winnipeg.  What do you hope to see in the future of reconciliation in the CRC?  

A: I would like to see Indigenous ways of being and Indigenous people valued and upheld in every part of the CRCNA holistically. I hope that the CRC will continue to lean into the work we did as a denomination on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  

Q:  Today is National Indigenous People’s Day.  If you could speak to every member of the CRC today, what is one thing you would want them to know?  

A: You can be proactive in encouraging our government to honour the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. Our government has missed moments to be instrumental in reconciliation when it does not pay attention to the TRC’s Calls to Action.  We have been confronted with this again recently in reference to residential schools.  The calls (specifically #71-76) continue to be important to implement. Participate as much as you can in justice and reconciliation so when you look back, you will see that your efforts make a difference.

Q:  To follow that up, if you were speaking to someone taking their very first steps of reconciliation, where would you recommend they start?   

A: Learn the history from an Indigenous perspective, read the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report and read the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Build from these and connect with Indigenous people.  (See next answer on Hearts Exchanged!) 

Q: You’ve been deeply involved in the design of the Hearts Exchanged process. What do you want to share with people about your hopes for the program?  

A: My hope for this program is for CRC members to begin, recommit or stay on their journey of reconciliation. The core of this program is that it is done with other people, you are not alone in the journey. You will learn of the past, how the past has shaped our reality today and how we as Christians can live out our faith in this area.  I’m really excited about how it will equip people to understand the concerns and conflicts that come up and better understand injustice.  

Q: What are you most excited about diving into at the Indigenous Family Centre? 

A: I am very excited to work alongside the people in this community. IFC has dedicated staff and volunteers and regular community members that make IFC a vibrant community. I am excited to continue to honour these community values and I look forward to being able to direct my energy to being immersed in this community full time.  



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