General Synod 2007

GS07 Report 09
EcoJustice report to General Synod 2004-2007

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When the EcoJustice Committee was formed in 1995, its name was changed on the floor of General Synod from the “Social Justice” to the “EcoJustice” Committee, to reflect a wholistic or ecological framework from which to pursue justice issues.  It was a name that leapt ahead of its time, and in the past triennium has increasingly characterized the committee’s work.   

The committee’s mission is: 

Committee and Staff

Members.  The committee, chaired by the Rev. Kevin Arndt (BC), was served by 15 members from 13 dioceses.  Three were youth members who bonded well with one another and inspired the committee with their energy, vision and sense of urgency as well as fun.  Two were Aboriginal members who were or had been active on the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples.  One member from the Military Ordinariate resigned toward the end of the triennium when he changed to parish ministry. 

Staff.  Deacon Maylanne Maybee continued as lead staff person, with support from Ms. Lydia Laku, program associate, and oversight from Dr. Ellie Johnson, director of Partnerships (who was absent during her term as acting General Secretary in 2004).  The Rev. Canon Linda Nicholls, Dialogue Coordinator for Faith, Worship and Ministry, shared her expertise in ethics and interfaith dialogue, provided a link with the Ecumenical Health Care Network, and kept us informed about Christian-Jewish dialogue.

Changes.  During the triennium there were some staff changes and departures.  The Rev. Eric Beresford, who had consulted on ecological and ethical matters, left Church House in the summer of 2004.   The Indigenous Justice Coordinator position was shared between Ms. Chris Hiller, who decided not to return after a maternity leave in 2005, and Ms. Millie Poplar, who retired at the end of 2005.  In order to make needed departmental economies, the position was not filled when vacated. 

Since 2004, the EcoJustice budget was reduced by 22%, which was reflected in diminished grants to ecumenical and social partners, and diminished resources for supporting local networks and organizing regional gatherings. 

In spite of these changes, the EcoJustice Committee carried forward its work of advocacy, networking, and public witness, relying on ecumenical partners -- KAIROS, Project Ploughshares, Church Council on Justice and Corrections, and Women’s Inter Church Council – and on the contributions of Committee members as well as diocesan staff and volunteer justice coordinators. 

Events in Canada and the World

Global Conflicts.  From 2004-2007, tensions increased in many conflicts around the world.  Few anticipated the extent to which the violence in Iraq would escalate following the US invasion in March 2003.  In Palestine, the militant group Hamas won a majority of seats in January 2006.  Intense fighting in Lebanon followed the capture of two Israeli troops by Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, and Canadians had to be evacuated from the region. 

Canadian troops in the south of Afghanistan became caught in the toughest combat known to Canadian military since the Korean War.  Parliament voted narrowly in 2006 to extend Canada’s mission there by two years into 2009. 

In 2005, terrorist attacks killed people in London’s transit system, at restaurants in Bali, Indonesia, in hotels in Amman, Jordan, and in the following year, in Mumbai’s commuter rail system.  Air travel and border crossing changed completely in these years.

Darfur in Sudan became a synonym for genocide, and North Korea caused global alarm by claiming to have detonated its first nuclear weapon.  These conflicts and threats seemed to dominate the world stage. 

Climate Change.  The devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean in December 2004, and a series of fierce hurricanes, including Katrina, which struck at the heart of the southern USA in August 2005, were evidence of increasing changes in the world’s climate.  On February 16, 2005, the Kyoto Protocol went into effect to address a growing alarm that the world is getting warmer and the temperature is rising faster than ever.  Action in response to this alarm was galvanized by Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.    

Change of Government.  In Canada, Paul Martin’s Liberals had been given a minority government in June 2004.  But their implication in the so-called sponsorship scandal led to a non-confidence vote and an election call for January 2006.  In the resulting vote, a minority Conservative government under Stephen Harper took power, ending 12 years of Liberal rule.  These short government tenures made it difficult to advocate for long term, systemic changes as   there was no way of being assured that commitments by one government to housing, social programs, or to First Nations leaders would be carried out by the next. 

Indigenous Peoples.  The October 2005 evacuation of the residents of the northern reserve of Kashechewan, plagued with contaminated drinking water, was a poignant demonstration of the urgency of the water issue. 

Advocates of self-determination and Aboriginal rights in Canada were severely disappointed by Canada’s refusal to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Aboriginal Peoples.  The continued neglect of the rights and dignity of Aboriginal people in Canada was manifest in the anger that erupted between residents of Caledonia, Ontario and Aboriginals in the area who mounted a roadblock over an unresolved land claim. 

The Kelowna Accord, a comprehensive $5 billion plan to address housing, health, economic development and wealth generation in Indigenous communities, was reached with a Liberal government in November 2005, and scrapped by the Conservative government in 2006.  Reports of extreme poverty among Aboriginal communities in Canada prompted the Assembly of First Nations to file a human rights complaint against the Government of Canada in February 2007 and to launch the Make Poverty History campaign for First Nations

Churches and Civil Society.  Key events within civil society were the UN Conference on Climate Change, held in Montreal in November 2005, and the International AIDS Conference, held in Toronto in August 2006.  In February 2006, the larger ecumenical community gathered at the World Council of Churches 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  In 2004, KAIROS -- Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, launched a three-year campaign against the privatization and commodification of water. 

EcoJustice Priorities.  Drawing on the resources and leadership at their disposal, both Anglican and ecumenical, the Committee identified these emerging priorities and themes for exploration and action:

Ways of Working

Building connections.  We continued to meet across Canada in order to build connections with local justice advocates and meet with bishops and church leaders in their diocesan context.   In the course of the triennium we met in: 

People and Events.  Committee members represented The Anglican Church of Canada at several global events within and beyond Canada:

Working Groups and Task Groups.  The committee divided into two thematic task groups: (1) Communications and Networking, and (2) Justice Camp Initiatives.  They also organized into four issue-focused working groups: (1) Peace and Nonviolence, (2) Ecology and Economic Justice, (3) Canadian Social Development, (4) Indigenous Justice. 

Members met in these groups during committee time and by conference calls between meetings.  Others from outside the committee were recruited for their expertise and connections. 

Responding to the Framework -
Serving God’s World, Strengthening the Church

Justice Camps Initiative.  The committee took seriously the challenge in the Framework to address youth involvement, congregational development, and leadership formation.  They seized on the Justice Camp Initiative as a programmatic response to the “disconnect” between the national and local church.  The camps were organized entirely by committee members working with local coalitions, with strong financial backing from the Ecojustice budget but minimal staff support.  PWRDF was an essential partner in the 2006 and 2007 Justice Camps. 

The goal of the Justice Camps Initiative has been to build up capacity, knowledge and skills especially among Anglican young adults, in a context of inter-generational learning, prayer, worship, and fun. 

The Justice Camps have been organized around these principles:

Remarkably, the committee organized and staged three justice camps in three years:

1.  Food Justice in Winnipeg, August 2005: “Setting the Table: A Place for Everyone and Every Place Honoured” – 45 people participated, from 13 to 89 years of age, of Anglican, United Church, Roman Catholic, Mennonite, Presbyterian and Unitarian traditions.  The 50/50 goal– 50% youth, 50% local – was met.  Participants had immersion experiences in a mixed farming community, an organic farm, urban food industries, and a fish farm. 

2.  Advocacy Justice Camp in Ottawa, May 2006
: “Seeking Justice, Engaging the Powers” – attracted 65 participants from 18 to over 65 years and generating sufficient funds to seed the next camp in 2007.  Advocacy was the theme, with immersions in homelessness and poverty, development and aid, Indigenous justice, immigration and refugees, rights for seniors and those with disabilities, ecology.   

3.  Environment Justice Camp in Victoria, May 2007:  “Mending Creation” – 70 participants are expected this spring, with international participants and the need to turn late applicants away. 

These hugely successful camps have generated positive spin off effects, such as:

Careful budgeting and the ability to attract resources made it possible to provide seed money for the next event.  The committee’s vision is to continue the movement, with plans for a Justice Camp in Halifax in 2008 about refugees and migrants, and possibly in Kingston about restorative justice and reconciliation.

Communications and Networking.  The Committee also considered ways to strengthen the voice and public witness of the Anglican Church of Canada on issues of peace and justice.  We identified these components of a strong communication strategy:

The communication work of the EcoJustice Committee was hampered by inadequate web based resources.  In January 2007 an EcoJustice web page was finally published, using software that would allow committee members to make additions and updates. 

We also organized

Action on Resolutions of General Synod 2004

The following is a summary of the resolutions that were directed to the EcoJustice Committee and the action that was taken for each:

Act and Title Description of GS Resolution Action taken by EcoJustice
Act 23 – HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination With PWRDF, develop a comprehensive strategy to engage Anglican members in fighting the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.  (PWRDF took primary ownership of this action). Staff participation in KAIROS Advocacy Working Group.
Representation at ecumenical pre-conference of International AIDS Conference.
Act 28 – 0.7% Millennium Development Goal Encourage Anglicans to support Anglican development work through PWRDF and Anglican Appeal.  Report to Anglican Communion.  Report made to Anglican Communion Task Force on Trade and Poverty and copied to COGS. Work on MDGs continued through Make Poverty History. 
Act 29 – Responsibility to Protect Request EcoJustice Committee to coordinate Anglican participation in the development of this policy framework for considering principles for different kinds of intervention in situations of global conflict.   EcoJustice through staff and board representation, worked with Project Ploughshares and the Commission on Justice and Peace of the Canadian Council of Churches to formulate theological reflection and principles of engagement.
Act 30 – Environmental Audits Commend work and resources of Ottawa and BC dioceses, and encourage others to follow suit using environmental audits and energy retrofits. Promoted the UK resource, Shrinking the Footprint, via the EcoJusitce network and on the website.  Education re audits, retrofits and other measures through the Environment Justice Camp, Victoria, BC, May 2007.
Act 31 – Kyoto Accord Request EcoJustice to engage dioceses in advocacy and communicate with federal government Anglicans participated in UN Conference on Climate Change,  gave leadership at interfaith service at St. Joseph’s Oratory at which world leaders signed Climate Change declaration.  Sent urgent action requests for letters  and wrote to federal govt re Kyoto.
Act 74 – Globalization and Trade Work ecumenically to ensure that Just Trade Declaration is disseminated and incorporated into Church reports to Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.  Develop a consumer education resource. Global days of Action on Trade in April 2005.  Met with DFAIT in May 2005 through MESA network of Canadian Council of Churches.  Booklet on Trade for Canadian Anglicans in production. 
Act 78 – Housing and Homelessness Encourage Anglican parishes to give practical and active support to affordable housing initiatives.  Continue work of advocacy. Anglican participation in National Housing and Homelessness Coalition and Faith Council of Habitat for Humanity Canada.  Letters to minister plus op ed piece by Primate.  
Act 79 – UN Declaration on Rights of Aboriginal Peoples Affirm the work of Indigenous and human rights leaders in drafting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Request ACIP and EcoJustice to work with the Aboriginal Rights Committee of KAIROS to raise awareness of Anglicans about the draft Declaration.  Letter written to PM urging Canada’s signature of Declaration.  Anglicans supported KAIROS campaign pressing for Canada’s consent.  Canadian government resisted advocacy efforts and refused to sign the UN declaration. 

Ecology and Economic Justice Working Group

Members.  The Rev. Ken Gray, Mr. Christopher Lind, Ms. Jennifer Miles, with Ms. Cynthia Patterson (Quebec), a former member of Ecojustice and the representative for the Anglican Church of Canada on the Anglican Peace and Justice Network. 

Global Climate Change.  The EcoJustice Committee sent Ken Gray to the Anglican Communion Environment Network (ACEN) in Canberra, Australia, in April 2005.  The resulting ACEN Statement on the Environment, first approved by the Anglican Consultative Council at Nottingham in June 2005, was subsequently adopted by COGS in November of that year. 

Three members of EcoJustice participated in the UN Conference on Climate Change in Montreal in November and December 2005, where an interfaith service took place at St. Joseph’s Oratory, and a Montreal Action Plan was signed to "extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol beyond its 2012 expiration date and negotiate deeper cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions."

The April 2005 Liberal plan for Canada to honour its Kyoto commitment was undone by the Harper government, which made no mention of it in its May 2006 budget.  Just prior to that budget, the EcoJustice Committee wrote to the Prime Minister protesting the federal government’s intention to cut Climate Change programs.

Environmental Stewardship.  EcoJustice used every occasion to showcase the leadership shown by dioceses, parishes and other provinces of the communion:

Socially Responsible Investment (SRI).  In April 2005, the EcoJustice Committee met with the Director of Pensions, Ms. Judy Robinson and the Treasurer of General Synod, Mr. Peter Blachford, to discuss how investment decisions were made and how SRI principles were applied.  The conversation opened the door for more open communication.  In November 2005, COGS appointed new investment managers of General Synod funds, in which the Canadian and US Equity portfolios contained only those securities that met the criteria of the “Jantzi Socially Responsible Investment Screens”. 

In response to “A call for Morally Responsible Investment” issued by Palestinian Christians, and to a resolution adopted by the Anglican Consultative Council, EcoJustice brought a resolution to the Council of General Synod in November 2005 requesting KAIROS to look into the role of corporations in Israel-Palestine and make recommendations for action.  In the end, no proposal for disinvestment came before the Council of General Synod, though much media attention surrounded the issue and the Jewish community in Canada applied considerable pressure to back away from such an action. 

In September 2006, the federal government hosted National Round Tables across Canada on the Canadian Extractive Sector in Developing Countries.  Archbishop Andrew Hutchison urged the government of Canada to follow through with legislation that would hold Canadian companies active outside Canada accountable for failing to meet standards of human rights and environmental protection. 

Water.  In cooperation with the 2005-07 KAIROS Water Campaign, EcoJustice encouraged Canadian Anglicans to educate themselves, the public, and their municipal governments about the growing threat to water as a sacred gift that connects all life.  The campaign called on all levels of government to keep water access public in Canada and globally, and to safeguard our watersheds. 

Anglicans supported KAIROS in discouraging the use of bottled water where possible as a way of advocating public, common access to water and protesting its privatization, its use as a profit-making commodity, and the wasteful production and disposal of plastic bottles. 

Creation theology.  As part of our dialogue with the Partners in Mission Committee, the Committee engaged in theological reflection on the relationship of creation and mission, and on six principles of ecojustice as articulated by the Australian “Earth Bible Project”.

Canadian Social Development Working Group

Members.  The Rev. Kevin Arndt, the Rev. Cathy Campbell, Ms. Robyn Thompson, Ms. Catherine Torraville. 

The mandate of this working group was to monitor and address social and economic justice issues within Canada.  Given the tenacity and complexity of poverty in Canada, we struggled to find the most effective way to engage others and ourselves in these issues.  Our efforts fell under three basic headings:  

Watching Briefs monitoring developments in areas of personal interest:

Coalitionsfollowing the involvement of staff and ecumenical colleagues in coalitions, campaigns, and networks, including:

Initiatives on Food and Agriculture clearly a Canadian Social Development concern given the urban-rural connection, urban and rural poverty, and the consideration of community development models. 

Peace/Nonviolence Working Group

Members.  Ms. Fiona Brownlee convened the Working Group throughout the triennium; the Rev. Eric Reynolds (Military Ordinariate) and the Rev. Terry DeForest (Niagara) served from 2004-06; Ms. Sharon Lee (Ottawa) served as the Anglican representative on Project Ploughshares; Dr. Barbara Birkett (Niagara) stood in while Sharon was on medical leave from 2005-2007. 

Responsibility to Protect is a concept which raises questions of how the international community should intervene in situations of vulnerability, such as arose in Rwanda or the Congo. Canada has been bringing “R2P” into international forums, and it was frequently mentioned in statements from Prime Minister Paul Martin. 

The EcoJustice Committee participated in forums and Round Tables on R2P offered by Ploughshares and the Commission on Justice and Peace of the Canadian Council of Churches, and distributed brochures through our networks.  For the next triennium we propose to incorporate the principles of Responsibility to Protect into an updated Just War? Just Peace! resource,  

Small Arms are “weapons of mass destruction”, “the weapons of choice for poor people”, weapons that directly affect children.  They include machine guns, grenade launchers, pistols, landmines, and AK47s.  To draw attention to the problems caused by small arms and light weapons, Project Ploughshares launched an education campaign called Take Action to Control Small Arms, and advocated for an international Arms Trade Treaty, first called for by Archbishop Tutu among othersIn October 2006 a first step was taken when 139 countries voted yes in a UN vote for an instrument to establish common international standards for the important and transfer of conventional arms. 

The Darfur conflict in the region of western Sudan between the militia group Janjaweed and ethnic groups of Darfur, has been secretly supported by the Government of Sudan.   Over two million people have been displaced and at least 200,000 killed, homes and villages have been destroyed and women have been sexually assaulted.  Given the failure of the government of Sudan to protect its people, there has been pressure on the international community to accept responsibility.  In January 2006, just prior to the federal election, Church leaders called on Canada’s political leaders to take steps to protect the people of Darfur, and to bring peace and security to the region. 

A Justice that Heals and Restores.  The Church Council on Justice and Corrections, together with the diocese of Toronto’s Working Group on Correctional Justice, collaborated with Ecojustice to produce a resource booklet with workshops, Bible studies, liturgies, and prayer resources on the principles of Restorative Justice.  Copies were distributed through our networks and to every diocese and have been in frequent demand for workshops and conferences.  The booklet was produced as a project of the Decade to Overcome Violence. 

Indigenous Justice Working Group

Members.  From Ecojustice – Ms. Ethel Ahenakew, the Ven. Peter John Hobbs, Mr. Willard Martin, the Rt. Rev. Susan Moxley, the Rev. Barbara Nangle.  From ACIP – Ms. Freda Lepine (Brandon), Mr. Charles Bobbish (Moosonee), Ms. Cheyenne Vachon-Swappie (Quebec). 

First Nations Governance Act. During the federal government hearings in early 2004, the committee was well briefed by Indigenous Justice staff.  In spite of strong participation of Anglicans across the country, it became evident that confusion about the “Indian Act” made it a challenge to engage people locally.  A popular educator was contracted to develop a learning tool similar to the well-received Blanket Exercise and is reaching completion. 

Sisters in Spirit. Launched in March 2004 by the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), this campaign raised public awareness of the disappearance and murder of 500 Aboriginal women in Canada. In November 2005, NWAC signed a five year agreement with the government of Canada to address violence against Aboriginal women and human rights concerns.  Awareness of Sisters in Spirit grew in Canadian dioceses.

Water forum.  In May 2004, Aboriginal communities, organizations, churches gathered at a forum in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Our Waters, Our Responsibilities: Indigenous Water Rights, to build networks and develop strategies to address Indigenous water issues.  A verbatim report of the event was converted into an executive summary for widespread distribution, and a follow-up forum took place in 2006. 

Self-determination.  The committee affirmed the principle of self-determination and expressed solidarity and support for the creation of the office of a National Indigenous Anglican Bishop. 

New Directions.  In January 2007, the Indigenous Working Group convened in Orangeville, Ontario to identify priorities and determine how to move forward effectively.  They affirmed their commitment to continue to address the many critical justice issues affecting Indigenous peoples in spite of the lack of dedicated staffing, and the need to work in partnership between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous church and others.  They agreed to invite previous and new partners to an expanded Round Table on Indigenous Justice early in 2008 to discuss priorities, terms of reference, and a communication strategy for raising awareness and building support. 

Future Considerations

Evaluation of last triennium.  The committee functioned well as a self-managed committee facilitated by staff.  Its focus was not so much on priority issues as on a prioritized strategy of developing local leadership with youth involvement through the Justice Camps Initiative.  A national consultation replaced diocesan and regional consultations.  In the absence of Indigenous Justice staff after 2005, the work of journeying in justice with Indigenous peoples was at risk of being dropped, leading to a reorganized approach to the work using Round Tables and networks. 

New ways of working.  We made these major contributions:

  1. Justice Camps
  2. Bringing together the Ecojustice and Partners in Mission Committees
  3. An interactive, volunteer driven website
  4. An Anglican/Lutheran justice consultation with diocesan reps from across Canada resulting in up-to-date networking links and e-mail lists. 

Looking forward, we see the following areas of emphasis emerging in the next triennium: 

EcoJustice Committee Members, 2004-2007

The Rev. Kevin Arndt (Chair) British Columbia
Ms. Ethel Ahenakew Saskatoon
Ms. Fiona Brownlee  Keewatin
The Rev. Cathy Campbell Rupert’s Land
The Rev. Kenneth J. Gray British Columbia
The Ven. Peter John Hobbs Ottawa
Dr. Christopher Lind     Toronto
Mr. Willard Martin Caledonia
Ms. Jennifer Miles Calgary
The Rt. Rev. Susan E. Moxley Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island
The Rev. Barbara Nangle Moosonee
The Rev. Eric Reynolds (until 2006) Military Ordinariate, and Ontario
Ms. Robyn Thompson Edmonton
Ms. Catherine Torraville Central Newfoundland
Mr. Gordon Yarde Saskatoon

EcoJustice Consultation, Winnipeg, MB, October 2005


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