National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Since 2002, the Canadian Church has celebrated on December 12 as the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Aboriginal Peoples. This day is organized with the support of the Canadian Catholic Aboriginal Council. The Council usually publishes a message on this occasion, which is distributed to all dioceses.

This day is an invitation to stand in solidarity with all of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples in prayer and thought, and to take action to learn to live better together.

In addition to the reflection provoked by the annual message, various activities are organized to foster solidarity with aboriginal peoples. Mission chez nous, an organization of the Assemblée des évêques du Québec, seeks to promote Christian solidarity with aboriginal peoples.

The organization has produced a resource sheet (in French only) to help prepare for this day of awareness and reflection. This reference document can also be used at other times of the year. It is designed to facilitate reflection on the theme Un même territoire, deux visions. It includes an explanation of the meaning of the day, Native poems, a universal prayer, etc.

Here’s an extract from the theme presentation:

“How do we treat this territory, what links do we establish with it as individuals or as a society? Is it just a pool of resources or a recreational area? […] Often, for non-Aboriginal people, the notion of territory is external: it’s linked to economic development, and often refers to major hydroelectric or mining projects. As Mario Dubé, a Manawan land guardian, puts it: “When an engineer looks at the land, he sees the cubic metres of wood, the profit, the amounts to be earned, whereas an Indian sees the life that’s inside! “For aboriginal people, the land is more a place of identity, belonging and life.”

Finally, December 12 coincides with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupé (the name given to the Virgin Mary), patron saint of the Americas. She appeared in Mexico in 1531 as an Aztec princess to a humble native peasant, Juan Diego.