A Community Engagement Process
Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples of Kingston and the Use of Faith United Church Land on Highway 15
We are humbled to be engaged in a local project in our home community of Katarokwi, also known as Kingston, Ontario where we will be working to create safe, honourable processes rooted in tradition and ceremony to hear from the local Indigenous community. If you self-identify as Indigenous and live, work or have roots in the Kingston and surrounding area, we encourage you to stay tuned to this page for updates and opportunities to have your ideas, experiences and expertise heard.
The Journey So Far
Faith United Church was founded as on the east side of Kingston 28 years ago, and though at that time, the Presbytery purchased land on Highway 15 for the construction of a church building, the congregation made a defining decision that they did not wish to put their energy into building and maintaining a church. As they surveyed the City, it seemed there were already plenty of churches, most with fewer and fewer attendees, and they felt their energy and resources were better used in building their community, caring for one another, and supporting needs in the wider community. As a result, Faith United has always been a nimble, people-centred community, full of compassion and generosity.
The people of Faith United Church began talking a year and a half ago as to what alternative purpose that land might have in our local community. Deeply moved by the report and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it was proposed that this property be offered to promote reflection and reconciliation with the Indigenous Community in this region.
Since then, members and leadership of the Faith United Church have met with dozens of Indigenous community members having the opportunity to listen and learn in meaningful dialogue. They have participated in local Indigenous celebrations, classes, and events and visited with Indigenous faculty and staff at Queens University, Indigenous language teachers and health professionals. They have met with City of Kingston officials and the local MPP. From this listening and learning there have been many powerful, inspired and relevant ideas shared about how Faith United Church, other faith groups, organizations and non-Indigenous residents and the Indigenous community can walk, side by side, in the ongoing process of honouring this land.
A highlight of the journey over this past year was the gathering of peoples on Canada Day, when they met together on the land to offer our prayers, to drum and sing, and to conduct ceremony together. They pledged to continue to walk together into the next 150 years in a new and good way as both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Three Indigenous Nations were represented, along with a diverse group of settlers, (non-Indigenous Peoples), from Faith United.
As part of this journey Faith United Church have determined, for themselves, key principles moving forward. They include:
- Any use for the land must be developed with the full involvement and partnership of the Indigenous community, based on mutual respect and a deep awareness of the historic injustices done to the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples by the colonial powers upon which Canada was built.
- Faith United Church continues to act in an honourable way to build trust, develop solid relationships and a shared vision, and reach a consensus together and a sense of shared ownership of the project before proceeding.
- The people of Faith United understand that they need to grow in their own understanding of the history, and not look to the Indigenous community to do that work for them.
Now is the time to create space for a greater number of voices to be heard from the local Indigenous community, and from that create a proposed plan that can be executed to move forward.
Ultimately, questions regarding the legal ownership, ongoing funding, maintenance and sustainability of the land must be answered as the work develops.
Three Things Consulting, an Indigenous owned firm based in Kingston has been engaged to support this process. There are three components they will implement in order to hear more voices, followed by the creation of an action plan to move forward with.
- A short online survey will be used to gather input and collect names (voluntarily offered) for those who are interested in the project and want to learn, share or do more around it.
- Three Things Consulting will host three Community Engagement Circles with the Indigenous community.
- Three Things Consulting will facilitate community visits, (also known as key interviews) with key stakeholders in the community. This could include Elders, knowledge keepers, activists, and staff, volunteers and existing partners of Faith United Church.
Once a proposed action plan is authored it will be brought back to the Indigenous community for validation and then offered to Faith United Church as a road map to continue walking the path to peace together between Faith United Church, the Indigenous community and other Kingston residents.
Click here to fill out our quick online survey and share how you envision this process moving forward.
Stay tuned for dates of Community Engagement Circles.
To learn more or get involved in this important process, please contact Three Things Consulting at [email protected].