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Reconciliation in Fort Babine

(Editor's note: This is the second in our series sharing the winning entries from our Truth and Reconciliation Commission contest. The first entry can be found here. Keep your eyes open for more gems from these young people!)

Over the past year and a half, myself, as well as the community surrounding me have gone through quite a reformation in thought in terms of indigenous people, their impact on our lives, and vice versa. I had the opportunity to be apart of a team of students from Trinity Western University to visit, and live with the people in Fort Babine, an indigenous reserve located an hour north of Smithers, BC. Though this ‘trip’ was only a month out of my life, it has changed me in so many ways. I originally joined the team because they needed males to apply or else there would be no team. Seeing as I am male, I thought I’d be a great fit for that criterion. From the original application, until the first team meeting, to going to Babine and then coming home, and still today, God has been working in my heart and developing a passion and love for our First Nations brothers and sisters. The goal and vision of our team was not to go and fix anything, which is something Christian missionaries have done wrong in the past, but rather to live, to love, and to learn.

People asked me before I went what we would be doing, which projects we were working on, and what we were building. Though I did not have an answer at the time, coming home I realized that our role as white, middle class Christians on the road of reconciliation is not to fix, mend, or create anything. Our role is to walk along side, to listen, to learn, and to enjoy. The most beautiful part about my whole experience there was building relationships that I knew would last longer than the month we were there.

There are so many stories that I could share that would shed a little bit of light onto our experience as a team but the one that stands out the most was when one member of our team got word that her great-grandpa died. Later in the week I received a call that my grandpa was in the hospital due to cancer. It was a time of grief for our team. One of our goals of the trip was to go and intentionally love: to love the people who were hard to love, to visit the people who don’t get visitors, to find those on the margins and meet them where they are at. While this was our goal, we saw that when we were suffering in our own grief, they came to us and met us. Not only does this show the love, passion and utmost care from the First Nations people of Fort Babine, but it shows that our relationship and our purpose of being there was not for us to help them, but rather to continue to build a mutual relationship that flowed both ways. Seeing this really gave me hope for the future.

When I talk to some people about the notion of reconciliation, they see it as ‘us’ helping ‘them.’ The terms ‘us’ and ‘them’ are something I am trying hard to stray away from because I know it is not like that--it is ‘we.’ Reconciliation is not something that ‘us’ can do on our own, and it is not something that ‘them’ can do either. People always ask me what reconciliation means and what it looks like. My answer would be that it’s always changing. It means something different to everyone. For me, it is rooted in deep justice, a striving to live like Jesus, and finally to treat my neighbour as myself.  Reconciliation is not a term, but a process that we all must be a part of.

[Image: Flickr user Hornet Photography]

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