United Church calls for unprecedented public attention to June 11 apology

    TORONTO, June 5 /CNW/ - The United Church of Canada is calling on its own
membership and all Canadians to stop whatever they are doing at 3:00 p.m. EDT
on Wednesday, June 11, to watch or listen to Prime Minister Stephen Harper
deliver Canada's apology to residential school survivors and their families.
    "We know that many First Nations communities are already planning
gatherings to mark this historic event. But they should not be alone in
recognizing that this is a significant moment in Canadian history," explains
the United Church's Moderator, the Right Rev. David Giuliano.
    Giuliano says the words spoken by the Prime Minister on June 11 will
carry far more weight and meaning if Canada's First Nations peoples can see
that other Canadians are standing in solidarity with them on this day.
    The church is hoping to encourage a level of public engagement in the
event that would be unprecedented, explains the Rev. James Scott, The United
Church of Canada's General Council Officer for Residential Schools.
    "Everyone, whether they are a private citizen, or a corporate or civic
body, has the capacity to do this - to stop and to listen to the apology,"
says Scott. "What we need now is motivation and momentum."
    Scott explains that Canadians who have heard the story of Canada's
residential schools know why this level of public attention is warranted.
    "The legacy of residential schools is something for which we are all
accountable. It is a legacy for which an apology is sorely needed and
long-awaited," says Scott.
    Giuliano adds that the occasion of the June 11 national apology is
particularly important because it will focus attention on the need for public
engagement in the five-year process of Canada's recently launched Truth and
Reconciliation Commission.
    "The June 11 apology offers the opportunity to begin the process of
healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation," says Giuliano.
    He adds that the United Church would like this invitation to spark a
substantive grass-roots response. The church hopes that millions of Canadians,
either individually or collectively, will stop for a moment on June 11 to take
stock of our history.
    Says Scott, "This is an opportunity for all Canadians to signal their
commitment to a renewed relationship of respect, equality, and justice between
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country."

For further information:

For further information: Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The
United Church of Canada, (416) 231-7680 ext. 2016 (office), 1-800-268-3781
ext. 2016 (toll-free), (416) 885-7478 (cell), (416) 766-0057 (home),

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