“The Creator wants to restore justice in this country and wants to restore the land to the original people—that’s why we’re having this gathering,” says Elijah Harper, whose vision of unity brought more than 2,000 people to the Sacred Assembly ’95 in Hull, Quebec on Dec. 6 to 9.

“The Assembly is meant to give us respect for each other and to provide reconciliation. That’s why it’s sacred. We come here to share.”

Harper called the assembly in September in response to increasing frustration and violence in First Nations communities. The assembly brought together Native Elders and spiritual leaders, Chiefs, youth, politicians, church representatives and others for four days of listening, learning, talking, praying and worshipping.

At the end of the assembly, delegates adopted a Reconciliation Proclamation and a Statement of Principles and Priorities for a New Relationship that outline the common values and objectives of those gathered. It also calls on the federal government to accept responsibilities for injustices committed against the First Nations and fulfill its promises to correct them.