The Aboriginal Awareness Group (AAG) was started in 2012 and is an approved social action project of First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto.
To better understand and to be supportive of the social justice issues of importance
to Canadian indigenous peoples and to deepen our knowledge of indigenous spirituality.
- Educate the congregation on indigenous issues through speakers, films, and discussions.
- Deepen the congregation's awareness of Aboriginal cultural and spirituality through drum circles, singers, stories and speakers.
- Recommend action plans that could be undertaken in partnership with Aboriginal groups, agencies and individuals.
- Inform the congregation of learning opportunities in Toronto, such as Toronto Council Fire, the Native Cultural Centre and demonstrations organized by Idle No More.
Since 2012, the AAG has offered several speakers, films, discussions and
experiences after the Sunday service. These include:
- Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux on the Treaty Relationship with First Nations in Canada
- John Martin Doran, a Mi’kmaq, on his experience of being taken from his
family at age 3 and his adoption by white American Amish parents as part of
the Sixties Scoop
- An indigenous film series, followed by discussion led by the film-maker
Michael and Ulla Muller (First members) on living in an indigenous community in Northern Ontario for a week
- Doug Buck and Kate Chung (First members) on visiting the indigenous community in Hartley Bay, B.C., which had been threatened by pipeline development
- AAG members have reviewed books on indigenous issues for Issues and Ideas.
- Indigenous art exhibits in Sunderland Hall (with the Arts Committee)
Food catered by indigenous kitchens
- Smudging ceremonies
- A guided tour of an indigenous art exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario, led by First member and art historian Gerta Moray
- A standing invitation to attend the Annual Pow Wow at Fort York every June.
Truth and Reconciliation
Since 2015, this congregation has been working to educate ourselves about the need for healing and understanding. This has been addressed through:
- A participatory workshop on the major themes of the Truth and Reconcilliation Report (Nov. 2015).
- Meaningful sermons from Rev. Shawn Newton, Rev. Lynn Harrison, Intern Minister
Danielle Webber, and Ministerial support at Standing Rock (Dec. 2016).
An acknowledgement at every Sunday service that First Unitarian stands on traditional First Nations lands.
- Journey group theme discussions in February 2017.
- A six session workshop on Truth, Healing, and Reconciliation led by Danielle Webber (February to April 2017).
- A Blanket Exercise, a powerful tool in understanding the loss of indigenous territory, led by Danielle Webber at a Sunday service in June 2017.
We continue to expand our outreach through volunteering:
- NaMeRes (Native men’s Residence) on Vaughan Road (kitchen)
- Aboriginal Awareness Group – planning and fundraising