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Quick to Listen

 A lot of events have drawn our attention to Indigenous rights in Canada over the past year.  Our newsfeeds have shown us events on Wet’suwet’en land, in Caledonia, and in Nova Scotia fisheries.  As the communications coordinator for the Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee, I often have to sort through what voices and perspectives we uplift and share on our platforms, with input from colleagues.    

As a history nerd who believes that our current events reflect complexity and layers of history, this gets difficult fast.  How do you share the historical treaty that ensures fishing rights in a three line facebook post?  What media sources can I share from that raise the voices of those most impacted by events?  How do we share both the brokenness and the resilience in our stories?  What does it mean to be the body of Christ in these areas?  And what impact does it have to say nothing at all?  

Listening often means seeking out perspectives that are different from my own

One thing I have learned from all of the reading and sorting is to be quick to listen and slow to speak!  (That’s even one of the suggestions from the Samara Center for Democracy in their guide on how to have political conversations online!)  Listening often means seeking out perspectives that are different from my own rather than the most accessible mainstream news.  Reading both perspectives together can give me a more holistic picture of what is happening.  

This often means that on our social feeds we are slower to post things as we think about how the things we share could benefit you, our audience.  And we often point to principles that benefit all of us regardless of how colonialism is popping up in the news.  For example, we often encourage you to read books, (check them out here).  Books give deeper insight into complexity and layers than something short that you might read on a screen.  Articles and podcasts can be other great ways to go beyond the headlines to greater understanding.  We encourage you to take an inventory of your community and consider if you are hearing different perspectives.

I don’t think I could have come to the same understanding through another format.

So when I got an invitation to a two-hour webinar exploring the treaty history of Six Nations led by a Mohawk woman, it seemed like a good opportunity for me to gain a meaningful understanding on Caledonia.   I’m a firm believer in discourse - our need to have meaningful conversations in order to better understand one another.  Discussions that do not result in the denial of someone’s humanity or deepening oppression even if we do not agree on a solution. ​  By the end of the two hours, I came to understand some of the reactions that we have seen in Caledonia.  I don’t think I could have come to the same understanding through another format.  

I can’t take up these opportunities all the time, but if I have a lot of confusion or a strong emotional reaction to something in the news, I try to intentionally and strategically learn about that topic.  However, I know if I were to share with you a two hour webinar on Facebook we would have very few clicks and even fewer people would make it more than five minutes into the recording.  And I understand that but I would also encourage you to take up those opportunities when you can!

Find your own version of a ‘two hour webinar’

Find your own version of a ‘two hour webinar’ that helps deepen your journey of reconciliation.  Stop and read one of Richard Silversmith’s blogs when you see it in our Facebook feeds.  Then go grab a book from your local library.  Start awkward conversations with those in your circles so you have practice considering difficult topics.  Find diverse sources to read - follow a respectable person on social media that you might disagree with.  Download a podast or two.  Seek understanding, live compassionately.  And now that you have the inside scoop, see if you can notice that in our social media.  We are slow to speak because we are thinking carefully about who’s perspectives and what messages need to be taken into account to further reconciliation.  


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

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