“It is urgent that all people of faith and goodwill unite and muster our collective spiritual resources to resist the growing fear and division that are spreading among us,” Moderator Jordan Cantwell recently noted. She calls us to stand together to protect the vulnerable and challenge hate wherever we encounter it—including in ourselves.
Recent actions taken by President Donald Trump have raised concerns that such values are under threat, specifically Indigenous rights, climate change, and refugee rights. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited these as crucial values after he was elected, and pledged that they would be priorities of his government.
Moderator Cantwell urges the church to respond in love to any actions from political leadership that threaten those values: “Yes, we will forcefully resist any efforts to strip people of their dignity and rights—but the force we will use is love.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said, “It is the job of the Canadian prime minister to have a constructive working relationship with the President of the United States.” Join the postcard campaign urging Prime Minister Trudeau to communicate to President Trump that Canadians are concerned about Indigenous rights, climate justice, refugee rights, and the dignity of peoples of all faiths.
Ask that the Prime Minister recommit to acting on these values in Canada’s own policies. On a personal level, make a commitment to learn more about and dismantle the racism and Islamophobia that are an integral part of the current context.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order that temporarily halts all resettlement of refugees to the U.S., halves the number of refugees to be resettled in 2017, bars Syrian refugees entirely, and discriminates against refugees of Muslim faith or background. The order also imposes a temporary ban on the admission of nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries.
In 2015 and 2016, United Church congregations and groups committed to more than 900 Syrian refugee sponsorship applications and raised or pledged $8 million for these efforts. This was in addition to donating $1.03 million to the church’s Syria Refugee Appeal. As people of faith, the church continues to ask and respond to Jesus’ question: “And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you…?” (Matthew 25:38)
Read about how United Church partner the Canadian Council for Refugees is responding to the United States’ anti-refugee, anti-Muslim measures.
Trump’s January 24, 2017, Executive Order affirming construction of the North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is of particular concern given the opposition of Indigenous peoples to this pipeline without a process of free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC).
On December 4, 2016, the US Department of the Army stayed an easement allowing the DAPL to move forward, citing treaty obligations (among other issues). Then-Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell responded to the Army’s decision, stating that “the Army’s announcement underscores that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as Nation-to-Nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components of the analysis to be undertaken in the environmental impact statement going forward.” This was a promising moment for the importance of treaty rights, nation-to-nation relationships, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and processes of consultation and consent in decision-making on issues affecting Indigenous peoples and their territories.
This is a key value for Canada to hold up, and Prime Minister Trudeau made the importance of this clear in his mandate letter to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development and the Canadian government’s stated commitment to fully implement UNDRIP.
The United Church adopted UNDRIP as the framework for reconciliation, and the Moderator has urged United Church people to remember this commitment when faced with questions such as those raised by the DAPL. We continue to advocate for full implementation of the Declaration, including free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC).
Signals from the Trump administration, including a ban on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees from speaking to reporters, a freeze on environmental grants, and reports that the USA will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, indicate that the USA will change its course on climate policy. Meaningful, ongoing action on climate change will make life in abundance for all possible.
The United Church welcomed the Paris Agreement in 2015. Governments around the world have committed themselves to take action to hold global warming to no more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts that limit the temperature increase even further.