Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Preparing for General Synod

One of the matters that is coming before General Synod this year is a philosophical matter that deals with one of the outcomes of European Colonialism called “The Doctrine of Discovery.” Basically, it is the notion that as European explorers began navigating the oceans of the world, they “discovered” Africa, Asia, Australia/Oceania, and North and South America. All of these discoveries were only new to Europe, but the Euro-centric world view suggested that these “new worlds” could be claimed and conquered by the technologically or financially more advanced European nations. A good example is the reference to Asia as “the Orient,” which upon reflection points out that it is only east if you start in Europe.

Another consequence of the “Doctrine of Discovery” was to discount and exploit peoples and resources by claiming ownership or domination. It is ironic to think that although we have come to recognize native Canadians as ‘First Nations’ we continue to treat the original inhabitants of this land as second-class citizens.*

By repudiating the “Doctrine of Discovery” we are acknowledging our complicity in the continued exploitation of many parts of the world, beginning in Canada. Our country has still not signed on to the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (September, 2007), abandoned the Kelowna Accord of November, 2005 (the first nationally agreed upon schedule of reparations and recognitions for first nations), and failed to act on the apology offered to First Nations because of the abuse and cultural genocide resulting from the Residential Schools policy.

At General Synod, Anglicans will have an opportunity to provide intentional representation of native communities in The House of Bishops, the Council of General Synod (ie. CoGS), and to inform the liturgical and theological practices of our church.

It is appropriate on this Feast of Pentecost to consider the ways God’s Spirit touches all the peoples of the earth.

*The Episcopal Church (USA) repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery at their General Convention in 2009. For a first nations commentary, follow this link:

Today's weigh-in: 237 lbs. More time needed on the bicycle.


  • At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Dawn Leger said…

    I am very intrigued and supportive of this motion. I talked about it yesterday in my sermon and shared the following anecdote.

    I lived in Quebec during the 1995 referendum. A burning question throughout the campaign was, "How will Quebec sustain herself without transfer payments from Canada?"

    About 3 weeks or so before the campaign, the separatist party said, "We will have control over our northern resources: water, trees, land..."

    That made sense to a lot of people, until the chiefs of the First Nations said, "Wait a second. That's our land, that we manage with the Government of Canada." In fact, the map they produced showed that the new Quebec would start about 100 miles north of Montreal and go south. Everything north belonged to the Cree.

    The assumption, rooted in the Doctrine of Discovery, is that everything within a provincial boundary historically drawn by a colonial power gives a euro-centric government the right to exploit First Nations people.

    PS. I'll be blogging from General Synod, too.


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