Sir John A. Macdonald and his wife, Agnes Bernard of Jamaica, were early parishioners of St. Albans. While Sir John A. Macdonald is rightly remembered as the first Prime Minister of Canada, he is also remembered by First Nations as an architect of the residential schools, and by Métis for the execution of Louis Riel. Many decisions integral to Canadian nation building undermined the rights and needs of Indigenous peoples, who were the first to make this land their home.
The 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) showed the harm done to Indigenous children and First Nations communities by the residential school system. The Anglican Church of Canada was an active participant in the residential school program until 1969. As Anglicans, we have officially apologized for our role in the residential schools, and have committed to taking action towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples, as well as to implementing the TRC’s Calls to Action. This includes recognizing the significant contribution that Indigenous peoples have made to Canada and our church, and making sure that our teaching ministry accurately reflects the history of Indigenous peoples. Therefore, while we recognize Sir John A.’s many achievements, we also acknowledge his role in the creation of the residential school system.
St. Albans is the oldest Anglican church building in downtown Ottawa, and we are proud of our Church’s longstanding commitment to inclusion. As Ottawa’s first free church, parishioners of St. Albans did not have to pay for the right to sit in a pew; Sir John A. Macdonald and other government leaders and officials worshipped alongside carpenters and labourers. However, we are not proud of the dispossession, mistreatment and exclusion of Indigenous peoples in Canada, and we acknowledge and repent of our sins in that regard. Through our prayers and our actions, we are working towards reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We invite you to join us on this journey.