Canadian Anglican Primate issues stern rebuke on jailing of natives

Canada’s Anglican primate has called the jailing of six Northern Ontario native community members a throwback to colonialism, a dangerous violation of the rights of native people and an act of the Ontario government putting itself above the law.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz’s unusually forceful language appears in a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty, in which the Anglican leader implies that members of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation are being punished solely for defending the sacred trust of their traditional lands.

He also links the jailing of KI Chief Donny Morris, the deputy chief and four councillors to the abuses of the residential school system, and says it has caused a “serious impasse” between Canada’s native peoples and the Ontario government.

On March 17, Mr. Justice Patrick Smith of the Ontario Superior Court ordered the KI six jailed for six months for being in contempt of court by refusing to allow mining company Platinex to test drill for minerals on land the band claims as its own.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

2 comments on “Canadian Anglican Primate issues stern rebuke on jailing of natives

  1. Rocks says:

    Maybe I am just ignorant but even if these tribe members are Anglicans could someone please explain to me why some obscure legal wrangling should be the concern of a Bishop?

  2. Tantallon says:


    Historically, Canada’s Anglican Church was a leading instrument of government policy in the socialization of native groups. A primary instrument in the process was the use of native residential schools. As a result of 1990’s litigation, it became apparent that the Church, along with other churches, and the national government bore substantial responsbility for profound sexual, physical and cultural abuse that was widespread throughout the system over many decades. The Church, with others, and government has agreed to accept substantial civil liability for that abuse.

    The Anglican Church bears even more of a special responsibility for the wrongs committed by its instruments, because the Church had assumed and purported to assume a special relationship with native people.

    The abuses that occured have had long lasting effects. You see this reflected in the article where the Primate connects the jailing of native leaders with the effects of the abuses of the residential school system.

    Beyond this, the social and economic conditions of First Nations, insist on the close focus of the Church as a matter of social justice.

    On a more fundamental level, I recall the intervention of a predecessor Bishop to this Primate when the Primate was the Bishop of Nova Scotia. The predecessor was effective in intervening in a judicial inquiry to have it moved to a part of the province that would allow family members of miners killed in a mine disaster to participate and observe the proceedings of the inquiry. Like this intervention of the Primate, it was a direct, no-nonsense, principled intervention.

    Experiencing the current lessons being taught by the Archbishop of York in the same field, a member of the Church might welcome more of this, as the establishment of a precedent, by our current Primate, who seems admirably well equipped to do it.

    These things are, after all, a matter of witness. Many of us are perhaps not only proud, but also relieved, to have seen it — and hope to see much more.