Report Number: 005
The EcoJustice Committee was created at General Synod in 1995. Its mandate is laid out in Prioity D of the Strategic Plan, Preparing the Way:
Advocate social justice and prophetic mission within Canada, especially in indigenous peoples’ concerns and social, economic, and environmental justice issues.
The name EcoJustice refers to the wholistic or ecological framework of justice issues in which the Committee is engaged. Members work with a wide range of partners in Canada, in the areas of environment, economics, social inclusion, and peace building. The following is a statement, developed in the 1995-98 triennium, of how the committee interprets its mission:
The primary mandate of the EcoJustice Committee is to pursue vigorously the church’s commitment to the integrity of God’s creation, being accountable for the legacy created and the implications for the future. This requires us to challenge attitudes and structures that cause injustice, primarily in Canada, but also within an increasingly interconnected global context in which we all live and move and have our being, recognizing that conditions in Canada influence and are influenced by conditions in other parts of the world.
The committee has consisted of 15 members representing 11 dioceses and the military ordinariat. Ms. Sue Winn from the Diocese of Montreal has chaired it throughout the triennium. Committee members carried forward much of the work themselves, with strategic staffing support. We noted with deep sadness, mingled with pride in her accomplishments, the death of Mrs. Willy Hodgson in February 2003, who had been elected to the committee but was prevented by illness from ever attending.
Staffing for EcoJustice is based in the Partnerships department of Church House, which also includes staffing for Partners in Mission and the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, under Dr. Ellie Johnson as Director. Deacon Maylanne Maybee is the lead staff person for the Ecojustice Committee with the portfolio of Coordinator of Justice Education and Networking. Ms. Chris Hiller and Ms. Millie Poplar share the portfolio of Indigenous Justice & Advocacy, and support the Indigenous Justice Working Group, a joint working group of the EcoJustice Committee and the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples. The Revd Canon Eric Beresford, Coordinator for Ethics and Interfaith Relations, gives a portion of his time to support the ecological and peacebuilding work of EcoJustice. Ms. Lydia Laku provides logistical and administrative support to the work. During this triennium, some pieces of work were done by outside writers hired on short-term contracts.
The past triennium has been marked by critical social, economic, political and military events in the world and in Canada. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in the US occurred before the first meeting of the new EcoJustice Committee. The US invasion of Iraq started while our meeting was in session in March 2003.
“Globalization” emerged as a concept in the 90s and by the 2000s became fixed in our vocabulary. In response to developments in the world economy, the World Social Forum was created as a platform for resistance and alternatives to the model for globalization formulated by transnational corporations, national governments, and international financial institutions at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. In 2001, the first World Social Forum was held in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, where much hope has been invested in the Brazilian president and the approach to a participatory democracy. Another people’s movement, the Hemispheric Social Alliance in the Americas, was inaugurated to develop alternative economic, social, and cultural models for North, South, and Central America. December 2003 marked ten years of Canada, the US, and Mexico being linked economically by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Canada ’s political landscape shifted considerably between 2001 and 2004. Eight provincial elections took place in 2003, bringing in four conservative governments, three liberal, and one NDP. A new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party was elected in May 2003, and by the end of 2003, the PCs and the Alliance Party merged to form a new party on the right, the Conservative Party of Canada. With the selection of a new leader of the Liberal Party in November 2003, Paul Martin became Prime Minister of Canada, succeeding Jean Chrétien.
Within our Church context, we saw the formation of KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives in July 2001. We experienced a sense of being overshadowed by the uncertain future of the General Synod, as well as by the demands on staff resulting from the Church’s preoccupation with the same-sex issue, and from the Residential Schools Alternative Dispute Process. Fortunately, the particular mix of people on the committee resulted in more laughing and singing than usual! Against this backdrop the EcoJustice Committee did its work of public witness and social justice advocacy.
Meeting in different dioceses. After its first meeting in Toronto in the fall of 2001, the EcoJustice Committee continued its pattern of meeting in different dioceses in order to foster relationships with local justice activists, to dialogue with bishops and diocesan officers, to broaden and deepen our vision of the church, and to join in local parish worship.
In the fall of 2002 we met in Oakville in the diocese of Niagara, during which time we had time to meet and talk with Bishop Ralph Spence and with staff and volunteers on the diocesan Division of Outreach.
In March 2002 the Rev. Lydia Mamakwa, a former member of EcoJustice, and bishop David Ashdown of Keewatin, hosted us in Kingfisher Lake, Ontario. We met with the clergy, band council, chief and people of that community, visited the local school, participated in a gospel jamboree on the radio, attended a confirmation, joined a parishioner in his walk to raise money for a van.
The Rev. Ken Gray, a current member of the committee, organized our meeting in Summerland, B.C. in March 2003, where committee members were joined by Archbishop David Crawley, and members of the provincial Social Concerns Committees and the diocesan EcoJustice Task Force, and participated with others from the area in a workshop given by KAIROS staff on the issue of free trade.
In September 2003 we met at the Temple Pastures Centre in the Diocese of Ottawa, were greeted by Bishop Peter Coffin, and spent a day of our time in conversation with members of the diocesan Ecology and Theology Working Group, the Capital Area Justice Initiative (CAJI), and other justice ministries.
Our final meeting was held at the Sisterhood of Saint John the Divine in Toronto in February of 2004.
Sending people to events. Drawing on past and present committee members to represent the Anglican Church at global and ecumenical events or gatherings has been an important way of building and benefiting from leadership within and beyond the committee on a range of justice issues.
Short term consultations. To help move the committee along in areas of work given to us by General Synod, the EcoJustice Committee convened a couple of one-time consultations with people who had specific knowledge and expertise.
Self-education. The EcoJustice Committee invited resource people to present information on the following topics:
Working Groups. At the beginning of the triennium, the EcoJustice Committee organized itself into working groups, using the model of the already established Indigenous Justice Working Group, which drew from members of EcoJustice, ACIP, and others with specific expertise. The working groups were designed to parallel the program committees of KAIROS and Project Ploughshares, and were as follows:
Section 5 below groups reports from the four working groups. Where actions were taken on resolutions of General Synod 2001, the resolution number is indicated in brackets.
Canadian Social Development and Global Economic Justice. Part way through the triennium, a single working group on Social and Economic Justice was formed to address issues and projects relating to Canadian Social Development and Global Economic Justice. Members of this combined working group were Ms. Sue Winn, Ms. Jennifer Davis, the Revd Douglas Highway, the Revd Kevin Arndt, Mr. Matthew Kett, with Deacon Maylanne Maybee as staff liaison.
Two areas of work which came to EcoJustice through resolutions of General Synod were:
Housing emerged as a priority, building on the work being done by the KAIROS Canadian Social Development Committee.
Ecology/Environment. The working group members were Dr. Dean S. Jeffries, chair, Canon Eric Beresford, staff liaison, the Rt. Rev. David Ashdown, and the Rev. Ken Gray.
The First Anglican Global Congress on the Stewardship of Creation met in Johannesburg, South Africa in August 2002 and developed a declaration to the Anglican Communion, urging the church to take its rightful place in the environmental debate. Through prayer and social and political action, through education, re-assessment of its own ecological footprint, through sustainable development and restoration of the environment, the church engages in mission.
During the triennium the environmental subgroup participated in such activity in the following ways:
Another feature of the triennium was the marked increase in weather events throughout the country, within a pattern of continuing climate change. Forest fires or coastal flooding in British Columbia, prolonged prairie drought, extreme heat and humidity in southern Ontario, or the hurricane in Halifax, have made people increasingly aware of our interdependence with a God-given environment.
Our church urgently needs to articulate an environmental theology based in scripture, in order to better understand our vocation as stewards of the earth and to challenge our church to adopt a radically inclusive worldview that embraces all of God’s creation.
Peace and Nonviolence. Those serving on this working group were the Revd Canon Terry DeForest, Ms. Fiona Brownlee, and Major the Revd Canon Baxter Park from the EcoJustice Committee, plus Ms. Sharon Lee, the Anglican representative on the board of Project Ploughshares, and for a portion of the triennium, the Revd Dale Gillman from the diocese of Qu’Appelle, with Dr. Ellie Johnson as staff liaison.
Education. In the fall of 2001, Just War? Just Peace!, an educational resource developed by a working group from the previous triennium, was completed and distributed to dioceses to encourage study and reflection on the theory of “just war”, its application in history, and alternative responses to conflict.
In early 2003, the Peace and Nonviolence Working Group prepared and distributed a supplement on the theme of Faith and Terrorism. The World Council of Churches Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) provided a major framework for other pieces of work (A151-a). DOV posters were distributed to every parish, as well as an introduction to the Decade to Overcome Violence called “An Outline for a Time of Reconciliation,” adapted from a United Church resource. The Working Group conceptualized and commissioned a blueprint for a workshop adaptable for use by parishes or small groups on a variety of topics having to do with overcoming violence.
Advocacy. The Peace and Nonviolence Working Group encouraged justice activists to participate in the Church’s opposition to the war in Iraq. It fostered a working relationship with Project Ploughshares, and maintained watching briefs on Ballistic Missile Defense (C001-a), the weaponization of space, and the effect of weapons, particulary Depleted Uranium (C003) and cluster bombs, on combatants, civilians, and the environment.
Indigenous Justice Working Group. The Indigenous Justice Working Group was established early in the triennium. IJWG is a joint working group of members and delegates of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) and the EcoJustice Committee, that serves as a consultative body on Aboriginal rights issues. Its members for this triennium have been the Rev. Canon Sue Moxley, the Rt. Rev. Caleb Lawrence, Mr. Jeffrey Cook, Ms. Ethel Ahenakew, the Rev. Larry Beardy, Ms. Irene Fraser, Ms. Arlene Hollywood-Roberts, Ms. Shirley Johnson. Staff support has been given by Ms. Chris Hiller and Ms. Millie Poplar. The working group met face-to-face 5 times over the triennium, once in conjunction with ACIP and once with the EcoJustice Committee.
The working group identified 3 central priorities for action: 1) First Nations Governance Act and related legislation; 2) Water/Aboriginal Fishing Rights; and 2) Anti-Racism. Over the course of the triennium, the working group developed terms of reference, guiding principles, ways of working, and a plan for communicating more effectively with local FN/Aboriginal communities and parishes.Bills C7 (First Nations Governance Act), C6 & C19
In 2003, Indigenous Justice staff, under the direction of IJWG and ACIP chairs, assisted in public education and political actions by providing bishops and dioceses with information updates. Recommendations emphasized parish advocacy work, including writing to Members of Parliament and participating in hearings of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. General Synod staff and some Anglican priests or their representatives appeared before the Standing Committee.
In May 2003, Indigenous Justice staff supported the First Nations cross-country caravan and other public demonstrations, joining hundreds of supporters on Parliament Hill and in Kenora, Ontario. Staff also monitored Standing Committee hearings and attended Assembly of First Nations meetings to monitor the consistency of the Assembly’s position on Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaties. As of January 2004, Bills C-7 and C-19 (Fiscal Institutions Act) died on the Order paper. Bill C-6 (Canadian Centre for the Independent Resolution of First Nations Specific Claims) passed into law. First Nations are awaiting policy decisions from the new Liberal government.New Agape Binder
Stories of New Agape events and struggles continue to be collected. An update of the New Agape binder is tentatively scheduled for distribution in Spring 2005.
National Forum on Indigenous Water Rights.
In 2003, the Working Group initiated a coalition of churches, Aboriginal communities and organizations, churches, and civil society groups to organize a national forum highlighting Indigenous rights related to water. Our Waters, Our Responsibility: Indigenous Water Rights will take place on May 13-15, 2004 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Seventy five leaders of Aboriginal communities and activists from civil society, environmental, and church organizations will be invited to attend, with the goals of developing stronger networks and developing regional, national, and international strategies to address Indigenous water rights issues.
Sisters in Spirit Campaign.
In March 2004, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will launch the Sisters in Spirit Campaign, a campaign to raise public awareness of the disappearances and murders of 500 Aboriginal women in Canada and to call for the establishment of a $10 million federal fund.
The Working Group partnered with NWAC and the United Church of Canada (UCC) to develop the Sisters in Spirit poster. IJ staff also produced an insert of liturgical resources. Posters and inserts were distributed to Anglican parishes and dioceses through the January 2004 Ministry Mailer. IJ staff members are working with NWAW and UCC to organize launch events and to circulate posters to church partners, Aboriginal organizations, and women’s and justice networks across the country.
Indian Act Educational Materials.
The Indigenous Justice Working Group is developing an educational resource to raise awareness of the history of the Indian Act and its implications for Aboriginal peoples. These materials will support current and future campaigns related to federal efforts to amend the Indian Act. In September 2003, the working group held an initial consultation with an educator and an expert on federal Aboriginal policy to identify a focus and format for the materials. Further consultations, research, and pilots of draft materials will be conducted in 2004. Materials will be completed and distributed to Anglican parishes, church partners, and solidarity networks in early 2005.
Kairos-Aboriginal Rights Committee (ARC).
The Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples nominated Larry Beardy as the Anglican representative on Kairos-ARC for the past triennium. To ensure full communication, the Kairos-ARC representative also served as a liaison with the Indigenous Justice Working Group. Staff attended meetings of Kairos-ARC.
Over the triennium, working group members and staff worked closely with Kairos-ARC staff and members regarding FNGA-related urgent action campaigns, FNGA workshops, Caravan to Ottawa activities, Sisters in Spirit poster distribution, and plans for the Indigenous water rights forum.Project Support.
Early in its term, the EcoJustice Committee decided to expand and strengthen its relationship with ecumenical and Anglican partners as an essential way of carrying forward its programmatic work of education and advocacy, and making the connection between local, global, and national initiatives. Our principal ecumenical and Anglican partners are identified below.
KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. O n July 1, 2001, Canadian churches and religious organizations formed “KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives”, bringing together ten former ecumenical coalitions in a new spirit of hope to promote human rights, justice and peace, viable human development, and solidarity. KAIROS continues the work of these coalitions, and builds on their legacy of almost 30 years of history and experience. KAIROS is mandated by its participant churches to address the following priority areas:
The EcoJustice Committee works most closely with KAIROS on issues of global economic justice, ecological justice, Canadian social development, and Aboriginal rights, areas paralleled in our own working group structure (Canadian Churches for Justice and Peace: A260).
Collaborative links with KAIROS were built over the past three years by appointing EcoJustice staff or committee members to KAIROS’ Program Committees, by inviting key staff from KAIROS to attend a portion of the EcoJustice meeting for planning and information sharing, and by asking KAIROS to put on one of their education workshops for committee and community members when we met in Summerland, BC. Some 24 people from the area attended a participatory learning event on free trade.
Canadian Council of Churches - Commission on Justice and Peace. The Commission on Justice and Peace meets twice a year to provide a forum among member churches of CCC for cooperating on peace and social justice concerns in Canada and the world. The Anglican Church of Canada is represented on this Commission by Partnerships staff Dr. Ellie Johnson and Deacon Maylanne Maybee. Canon Eric Beresford has been the liaison with the Ecumenical Health Care Working Group and the Biotechnology Working Group.
The church membership base of the Canadian Council of Churches is broader and more diverse than that of KAIROS, and the emphasis is on leadership education, church leaders’ statements, and dialogues with government representatives. Letters have gone out, for example, from the chair or General Secretary of the Council, or from the chair of the Commission on Justice and Peace:
The Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network . Started in the last triennium by member churches of the Canadian Council of Churches, this network has been a place for anti-racism facilitators, educators and organizers to share information, and receive ongoing support. The Anti-Racism Working Group of General Synod has sent its members to workshops sponsored by the network to strengthen the analysis of racism in Canadian churches, and to learn from anti-racism work globally.
Project Ploughshares. The Anglican Church of Canada relates to Project Ploughshares through our representative, Ms. Sharon Lee of the diocese of Ottawa, a former member of the EcoJustice Committee and a current participant in the Peace/Nonviolence Working Group. In the months preceding and following the war in Iraq, Project Ploughshares organized a website petition which attracted an unprecedented number of signatures, “Prepare for Peace in Iraq”, outlining clear, non-military alternatives to war in that region. Project Ploughshares also convened a round table discussions to assist churches in exploring the ethical and theological dimensions of humanitarian intervention.
The Church Council on Justice and Corrections is a national coalition of churches that promotes a restorative approach to justice with an emphasis on addressing the needs of victims and offenders, mutual respect, healing, individual accountability, community development, and crime prevention. Mr. Gordon Yarde of the diocese of Saskatoon, and a former EcoJustice Committee member, represents the Anglican Church on the board.
Women’s Inter-Church Council is a national Christian women’s council encouraging women to grow in ecumenism, to share their spirituality and prayer, to engage in dialogue about women’s concerns, to respond to national and international issues affecting women, and to take action together for justice. Ms. Cheryl-Lynn Hagan of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island represents the Anglican Church.
EcoJustice extended its anti-poverty work through these organizations:
The Anglican Peace and Justice Network. APJN is a recognized network of the worldwide Anglican Communion and is made up of representatives from about 24 active Anglican Provinces. Ms. Cynthia Patterson of the diocese of Quebec, a long time activist on matters of social, economic and ecological justice, serves as the representative of the Anglican Church of Canada, and reports to the EcoJustice Committee.
The network meets every two or three years and is developing communication using available technology to provide greater sharing of mutual justice concerns. The most recent meeting took place in Aotearoa/New Zealand in November 2001, at a time when participants struggled to get past the events of September 11/01 to address other pressing global concerns, including globalization and poverty, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Ms. Patterson was asked to serve on a Task Force on Trade and Poverty for the Anglican Communion, which began its work of analysis, theological reflection, and recommendations for action in September 2003 at Canterbury, England. The next meeting of Anglican Peace and Justice Network will be in Jerusalem in the fall of 2004.
The Inter-Anglican Women’s Network. The Inter-Anglican Women's Network (IAWN) is another of the recognized networks of the Anglican Communion, with representatives from women's organizations in many different countries. The network is currently being coordinated by the Rev. Alice Medcof, a priest of the diocese of Toronto, who links with General Synod through a Women’s Reference Group that meets with EcoJustice staff twice a year. IAWN has continued to work towards its goal of linking Anglican women worldwide using regular postal services, fax and internet technology. Its website (www.iawn.org) is developing the capacity to post reports of women's activities from each of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion.
Anglican Communion Environmental Network. The Anglican Communion Environmental Network is a new network, which received recognition at the Anglican Consultative Council-12 in Hong Kong in 2002. It aims to provide support and leadership to initiatives to protect the environment, to advocate for responsible environmental stewardship, and to educate Anglicans as individuals and communities to become better stewards of creation. It has launched a website at www.anglicancommunion.org/ethics_technology/introducing_the_network.html.
Reduced program funding and the ongoing effort to reach a Residential Schools Agreement prevented a national conference from being held in the 2001-2004 triennium. Work continued on building an EcoJustice database, flowing out of the communication network developed during the Jubilee Initiative, and updated by means of a feedback form. Holding the EcoJustice Committee meetings in different dioceses, and strategic staff visits to Victoria, Vancouver, central British Columbia, and Quebec, were other tools for maintaining links with diocesan justice initiatives.
The main work of connecting peace- and justice-minded Anglicans was carried out by volunteer organizers of the Magnificat Network. A Steering Committee, on which the EcoJustice staff participates, gives direction to the network, which has contact persons in most dioceses of Canada, and circulates an occasional newsletter to its participants. Plans are being made to host regional gatherings for present and potential members in 2004, one in Saskatchewan, one in Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island.
Just Trade - Addressing Globalization in North America. In 2002 and 2003, the Commission on Justice and Peace organized three initial events in Canada, with visitors from US and Mexico, to consider the impact of free trade in North America. A larger consultation on “Just Trade Agreements? Churches in North America addressing Globalization” brought together 100 representatives of churches from Canada, the US and Mexico at Stony Point Center, New York in January 2004. Representatives from six previous regional consultations were present from the World Council of Churches and other world church organizations and NGOs. Participants described some of the struggles in their countries related to globalization, reflected on the idea of “economy” in Scripture and theology, and agreed to a statement of principles, “What does God require of us? A Declaration for Just Trade in the Service of an Economy of Life.” The Declaration will be carried forward to General Synod for adoption.
Health Care in Canada. The Ecumenical Health Network started as a project of the Commission on Justice and Peace and now reports to the Canadian Social Development Program Committee of KAIROS. In February 2002, it convened a forum of over 100 senior church leaders and health care providers, to consider the future of health care in Canada. In May 2002, the Network was invited to follow up its written submission to the Romanow Commission with an oral presentation. Throughout 2003, it was engaged in follow-up work based on the recommendations contained in the Romanow Report. The network produced a series of Fact Sheets on Health Care as a tool for building awareness among Canadian people of faith and encouraging their involvement in this vital issue of public policy.
Socially Responsible Investment (A155). The EcoJustice Committee continued to monitor the commitment of the Anglican Church of Canada to implement its current policy of Socially Responsible Investment. The limited size of General Synod’s consolidated trust funds, the requirement of fiduciary responsibility placed on Pension trustees, the reduced level of staff support, the priority given by the Management Team to Residential Schools litigation, and the incorporation of the former Taskforce on the Churches and Corporate Responsibility into KAIROS, have all been named as factors that prevented progress on this issue in the past triennium. In October 2003, KAIROS hosted a day-long workshop for churches on “Mission Based Investing”. As a way forward, the EcoJustice requested the Mission Coordination Group in March 2004 to involve the Financial Management and Development, the Pensions, and the EcoJustice Committees to co-host a similar workshop.
Our work was affected by the sense of uncertainty about the future of General Synod. We gave more attention to questions of church polity, and thought strategically about how work might continue if staffing were reduced or structures were modified or disrupted. The New Agape binder project and the consolidation of the EcoJustice database resulted from this strategic planning.
What worked well; what to do differently
The wider church is not well-informed of the work which General Synod Standing Committees do on behalf of the whole church. General Synod as a whole, and the EcoJustice Committee in particular, need to take steps that will build diocesan ownership of the work.
Regarding the mandate to develop networks and provide discussion frameworks:
Establishing the working groups at the beginning of the triennium helped us to focus and act. However, we need better ways of supporting the work between meetings. Working groups were most effective at framing issues and conceptualizing and shaping the work, but were less effective at producing outcomes. Limited staffing needs to be supplemented by contracting pieces of work to outside freelance people. We need to be more realistic about what can be accomplished with our resources.
Doing the “programmatic” work of advocacy and education through KAIROS and other ecumenical organizations means that the focus of the EcoJustice work and people’s awareness of it has become fuzzy.
Recommendations to the next committee re ways of working
Committee members developed key goals and themes they would suggest to the next EcoJustice for the 2004 to 2007 triennium:
1. New Agape
2. Restorative Justice
4. Urgent Action
5. Theological reflection
6. Peace and nonviolence
8. Leadership development
9. Strengthen and solidify working partnerships