Statement on Indigenous Boarding Schools

In light of the recent Statement on Indigenous boarding schools by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings, I have been reflecting on not only what I know about this legacy, but my past service with Christian Peacemaker Teams where I primarily served with the Aboriginal Justice Team (“AJT”) as well. [1] 

We accompanied and supported Indigenous communities seeking justice and defending their lands against corporate and government exploitation without community consent.  My most memorable accompaniments include the Grassy Narrows First Nation, the Barriere Lake Algonquins, and the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation.  I was also privileged to co-present a workshop at a Toronto Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“TRC”) gathering, and I gave multiple presentations on the Doctrine of Discovery, using the Grassy Narrows communities’ complex lawsuit as an example of how the doctrine survives and is applied within Canadian jurisprudence[2].

With Presiding Bishop Curry’s and House of Deputies President Jennings’ statement, we now wait for the Executive Council to deliver a detailed proposal for addressing the Episcopal Church’s participation in the Indigenous boarding schools’ legacy.  I do wonder how Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation model can guide us.  Canada’s Commission was formed as a result of The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history. One of the elements of the agreement was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families, their communities and all Canadians. Canada has recently received international news coverage regarding discoveries of mass graves at former ‘Indian Residential Schools.’ Canada has acknowledged that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in the schools, with students beaten for speaking their native languages

While many refuse to budge from the notion that, while “such a darn shame,” the conquest is ancient history, many others are attempting to live in right relationship.  An increasing number do look to indigenous voices, in humility, for guidance.  I am quite thankful for this. And needless to say, I am quite thankful and appreciate Bishop Curry’s and Ms. Jennings’ bold and prophetic leadership here.

And now is the time for EPF to prepare.  Who will join me in responding to the call to live in right relationship with our Indigenous sisters and brothers?  Please email the Rev. Dn. Chris Sabas at  If you wish to join EPF in our work for racial reparations, please email Melanie Atha at 

[1] Now named The Turtle Island Solidarity Network (“TISN”). I joined CPT after closing my law practice, with having nearly ten years of litigation experience. 

[2] I would like to tweak this presentation and use a US based community as an example.

The Rev. Deacon Chris Sabas was ordained to the vocational diaconate in October 2020 and is currently serving as the Deacon-in-Residence at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Somerset Parish, Princess Anne, Maryland in the Diocese of Easton.  Currently a postulant with the Communion of the Mystic Rose (, a dispersed canonically vowed religious community of the Episcopal Church, which is a designated special ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of California. She is a member of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship's National Executive Council, which endorses and adopts this statement.

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