News briefs

At their peak in 1953, residential schools removed 11,090 aboriginal students from their homes; today 31,200 aboriginal children are in foster care. In Manitoba, of the 9,120 children in care, 87 percent are aboriginal, and only 14 aboriginal children were adopted in the 2009−10 fiscal year. Canada implicitly forbids non-native adoptions of native children to prevent the loss of cultural identity, as occurred in the “sixties scoop” when many aboriginal children were adopted into white homes.—Globe and Mail

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Canadian mining companies are the worst offenders in environmental, human rights, and other abuses in the developing world, according to a global study by an industry association. It found of the 171 companies identified in unethical incidents over the past decade, 34 percent are Canadian. The majority of incidents took place in India, Indonesia, the Philippines, DR Congo, and Latin America, and involved cultural and economic disruption to the community, sometimes leading to protests and violence.—The Star

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One of the original organizers of Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) died Dec. 26, 2010. Cornelius (CN) Friesen volunteered with MDS throughout its 60 year history, beginning with sandbagging Manitoba’s Red River flood of 1948, going on to serve on Manitoba, B.C., and bi-national boards, and ending with coordinating seniors to volunteer in the Winnipeg office up until last spring.—MDS release

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In 2010, the World Evangelical Alliance
(of which the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada is a member) opened an International Leadership Institute, launched an anti-human trafficking task force, participated in the production of the new Narnia film, partnered with the Resource Mobilization Working Group in conjunction with the Lausanne Movement to increase giving to worldwide missions, played a major role in decreasing tensions caused by a Florida pastor’s proposed Qur’an burning, and met with China’s government and church leaders to discuss religious freedom.—WEA release

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A bill to make coerced abortion a criminal offense was voted down by the House of Commons. Bill C-510, or Roxanne’s Law, was Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge’s response to the murder of Roxanne Fernando, beaten to death by 3 men for refusing to have an abortion.—National Post

While the federal laws prohibiting human cloning, combining human and animal genes, and the sale of eggs and sperm still stand, in December the Harper government turned over the regulation of these laws in fertility clinics and research labs to the provinces. Quebec, along with 3 other provinces, challenged the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act, arguing that fertility treatment is a health care service like any other under provincial jurisdiction.—Winnipeg Free Press  

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For the first time in Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) history, an Early Response Team (ERT) made up of Amish-Mennonite volunteers in northern Arkansas has integrated missing person search and rescue operations with natural disaster response service. At the five search and rescue operations this year, 276 Mennonites volunteered a total of 147 days, or 1,178 hours. When a person is reported missing, people say, “We’re going to need the Mennonites.”—MDS release

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Shepherds College, the U.S.’s first faith-based residential college exclusively for students with intellectual disabilities, will graduate its first class this spring. Currently, 26 students aged 18−34 are enrolled in the program, which teaches spiritual disciplines, computer skills, culinary arts, and horticulture. In the U.S., intellectual disabilities affect 7 million people, or 1 in 10 families.—Christianity Today

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French and Austrian officials stepped up security at Coptic churches in their countries after a bomb killed 21 people at a church in Alexandria, Egypt, New Year’s Eve. Christian rioters in Cairo burned tires and threw stones at police, accusing President Hosni Mubarak of failing to protect them. In Egypt, Christians form 10 percent of the Muslim majority nation.—Globe and Mail

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Ten days before Christmas, authorities seized and demolished the home of pastor couple Nguyen Hong Quang and Le Thi Phu Dung, leaders of the unregistered Vietnam Mennonite Church. Their home served as headquarters and leadership training centre for a group of 64 Mennonite congregations with 3,500 active members. Ho Chi Minh City plans to develop the property into a new city complex.—MWC release

 

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