National Forgiven Summit

Intercessors for Canada

Canada's Twelve Most Wanted Answers to Prayer - June 2010 - Part 2



After five months of travelling across Canada with the 'Journey of Freedom' the team led by Chief Kenny Blacksmith finally reached Ottawa for the 'National Forgiven Summit'. On a beautiful sunny evening thousands gathered at the Civic Centre for an historic occasion where a coalition of First Nations, Métis & Inuit would, as individuals, respond with forgiveness to the Prime Minister's apology made exactly two years before to the day. On June 11th, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had sincerely apologized to the Aboriginal peoples and asked for their forgiveness for Canada's role in the Indian Residential Schools system. For many, now was the time to set Canada free through choosing to forgive and thereby gain their own freedom.

As we entered the atrium lobby we were welcomed by the sound of worship as Russ Rosen and a team from Vancouver played gently for attendees and to honour the Lord. The arena had been transformed with vivid lighting and smoke effects and a wide stage had the outline of both a tepee and an inukshuk with a large screen between them. Chief Kenny Blacksmith opened with a big smile saying that we had waited a long time for this moment. He urged us to expect much from our Chief Cornerstone! Chief Kenny was partnered by Pastor Alain Caron from Gatineau who translated into French.

There was a very warm welcome from the local Algonquin Nation with a reading of Psalm 24 and a prayer that the 'King of Glory may come in'. Pastors Ken Hall and Ken Roth also welcomed the Summit on behalf of the Ottawa churches. Chief Kenny could now say, 'that we are free to do whatever needs to be done'!

The nations came together to lead us in worship. An eleven piece, multi-ethnic band, that had never played together, excelled in leading us in celebration worship to the Lord. They started with, 'The Lord is gracious and compassionate ... ', His love and mercy being the basis of our being able to forgive others. Throughout the weekend the worship was vibrant and creative in song and dance. Many First Peoples dancers from across Canada combined with Polynesian Islanders (Island Breeze from Medicine Hat & Winnipeg), the Dance Barn from Langley, BC, and Alliance et Vie from Saint-Hubert, QC. The drums, energetic and passionate, gave us an experience of Psalm 150 style worship. The Inuit throat singing was very special.

There were consecutive important addresses by Chief Elijah Harper and Chief Billy Diamond on Friday evening. Chief Elijah's vision was that the First Nations would be recognized in Canada as full equal partners and for them to live abundantly in their own country. While he was willing to express forgiveness to the Government he was also clearly looking for more apologies and more respect. He noted that the Prime Minister's apology was only for the Residential Schools issue and even that had been lacking in one aspect. He shared that at the time of the apology in the House of Commons, the Speaker actually left his chair and sat on the floor of the House, thus causing the Commons to officially become a 'Committee' instead of a full Parliament. Chief Elijah said that the Government missed an opportunity to treat the First Nations Leaders present in the chamber as equals and said that there was a lot of work to be done.

Chief Billy Diamond said that this conference meant freedom! At the age of seven he was torn from his parents and became a number - 316. His later joy was to know the power of John 3:16! In the church residential schools they had misrepresented the nature and love of God. They told him to pray to a God who never answered and he had felt abandoned and rejected by both his parents and by God. He shared that full healing came out of the divine order of repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration. When he heard the Prime Minister's apology he exclaimed, 'that the last veil of secrecy over Canada has been torn' He believed that the First Nations would bring revival to Canada and exhorted them not to stay in the prison house of unforgiveness.

Towards midnight David Mainse led a group of pastors in a Declaration of Repentance, kneeling before the aboriginal leaders and asking for forgiveness on behalf of the Church of Canada. In a very moving response Elijah Harper and Billy Diamond expressed their forgiveness. The Saturday morning session opened with individual Inuit and the Métis also accepting the apology of the pastors. James Arreak said 'I choose to forgive you'! Pastor Eva Deer (Nunavik, QC) said 'Church of Canada, I forgive you, we are reconciled through Jesus Christ.' Métis Evelyn Lipke said, 'I also forgive and release you, O churches of Canada, from any judgments I have had'. A reading of psalm 126 also summed up for Evelyn what she was sensing ...'when the Lord restored our fortunes ...'.

Chief Kenny explained that the Journey of Freedom had encouraged individuals to make a choice to come together and forgive. They were not speaking on behalf of anyone except themselves. Forgiveness was not political or economic, it was spiritual and it was for each person individually to make that choice. We then came to the time of Release. Chief Kenny read aloud the lengthy 'Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom' which declared forgiveness for many offences. 24 Elders who had survived the Residential Schools then signed the Charter on behalf of the coalition. This was then witnessed by 12 young people with the hope of freedom for future generations, 'Let us break the yoke of the past, let us find wisdom and hope together'.

There was then a spectacular Grand Entry of First Peoples in full regalia with feathers, furs and drums. A most moving moment was when a dozen young children from the Flying Dust Reserve (SK) sang the National Anthem in Cree.

The Charter was then presented to the Minister for Indian and Northern Affairs, Chuck Strahl, who represented the Prime Minister. Due to international involvement Stephen Harper addressed the Summit by video affirming the Charter and expressing his support. In response Chief Kenny said 'Canada is a healed Nation, more healed today than before because of what we were able to sign this morning. Mr. Prime Minister, we forgive you!'

Chief Herman Yellow Old Woman then pronounced that Chief Kenny Blacksmith and Chuck Stahl would be given the highest expression of honour to recognize those who want to do more. In an elaborate ritual with a buffalo dance, ancient songs and impartation, they were given the right to wear an impressive headdress. 'This would make them stronger leaders'. Other gifts were given for the Prime Minister including a hand made paddle for the healing journey for Canada. Chief Noel Pootlass (Bella Coola, Nuxalk), anointed Chuck and Kenny with eagle down and the fine filaments were carried out over the congregation for peace and blessings. This was now the time to embrace and celebrate freedom. Jonathan Maracle then led us into loud celebration with his Native Mohawk Fusion Band.

Sunday continued in celebration and included an extended ceremony of appreciation, honour and highest respect for David Demian and his family. He was presented with a variety of gifts and it was declared that David's walk and influence through Watchmen for the Nations had been an indispensible factor in bringing the First Nations leaders into unity. His example of allowing the Spirit to set the agenda in the Gatherings had become the model for their present and ongoing journey.

We pray that the spiritual momentum will increase and that the Lord will continue to surprise us in wonderful ways. June 16th, saw the start of the first Truth and Reconciliation National Event, June 16 – 19 at the Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created to talk about all of the experiences and impacts of the residential schools and to establish an historical account of the system. This is another step in restoring respect and honour to the First Peoples. *******

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