Assembly to tackle homelessness, resource extraction

By Marites N. Sison
Posted Mar 20, 2013

[Anglican Journal] At their joint assembly this July, Anglican and Lutheran delegates will be asked to consider a joint declaration addressing the issues of homelessness in Canada and “responsible resource extraction” involving Canadian companies here and abroad.

The Council of General Synod (CoGS), the Anglican church’s governing body between General Synods, agreed to forward the resolution for consideration at the Joint Assembly this July 3 to 7, in Ottawa.

On the issue of “responsible resource extraction,” the declaration calls on the two churches to support indigenous communities in Canada and overseas “in exercising their right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent” with regard to development projects that affect their traditional territories.

It also asks them to “advocate for responsible and ethical investment both in Canada and around the world.”

The declaration notes that Canadian companies are “major players” in mining, energy production and resource extraction across the country and abroad. “They generate wealth for our societies, but they also give rise to serious and complex environmental, socio-economic, and human rights issues,” the declaration states.

“We bear a moral responsibility to address these issues and concerns in partnership with others,” it stresses.

The declaration expresses concern that two recent legislations—Bill C-38 also known as the Omnibus Bill and C-45—have made changes to environmental legislation and assessment processes that “potentially threaten the ecological integrity of areas under proposed development.”

It notes that resource extraction and other projects, whether here or abroad, often affect traditional territories of indigenous peoples and are undertaken without their Free, Prior and Informed Consent, “a right enshrined in the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is a signatory nation.”

Prepared by the partners in mission and eco-justice committee, the declaration commits the two churches to “advocate for renewed federal funding” and for an “integrated national collaborative strategy and greater accountability on the part of provinces and municipalities” in addressing homelessness and substandard housing.

“As we look across Canada, we are disturbed by the reality that around 400,000 people are without a healthy place to live and that homelessness has continued to increase despite years of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity in our country,” the declaration states.

It notes that many, particularly the working poor, are unable to find affordable housing. “The costs in terms of human suffering are staggering, as are the additional burdens for health care and social services,” it says.

Local churches help by providing a broad range of services and support for the homeless but these are not enough, it adds.

The declaration carries a promise to act by “nurturing and supporting” their own agencies and programs that work with and for the homeless, the under-housed and refugees. It also pledges both churches to learn more about the issues around poverty and homelessness and to raise awareness within their communities.