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Reconciliation

Reflections for National Truth and Reconciliation Day

September 30th 2021 marks the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.  It coincides with Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots commemoration marked by the wearing of Orange Shirts for children forced to leave their families and attend residential schools.  

Talking in Circle

Hearts Exchanged is a perfect name for the program I was privileged to participate in this past year.  Instead of a purely intellectual exercise about Indigenous people and the church in Canada, this was a meeting of hearts and souls.  Real learning and listening took place. It was a laying out of beliefs and understandings.  Sharing of first person accounts. Gentle correction. Encouragement. Pledges to do better and ideas for how to do so in real and meaningful ways. 

Why I Write

A few years back, I sat at the feet of my oldest surviving Aunt. It was a family gathering and nearly everyone had gone home, only a few stragglers remained. My aunt sipped a beer and I waited for the reticence to fall away before posing my question. “Aunty, can you tell us about the residential schools?” I asked in a low steady voice. She sipped on her beer and glanced down at me, “they were okay.” 

“...but Aunty, I worked at the Truth and Reconciliation hearings. I heard all the stories...” my voice tapered off. 

Laughing Ceremony for the Soul

There are Indigenous rituals and traditions in the Americas that might alarm the Christian white Euro-centric culture that are not involved or aware of the history and cultural aspects surrounding them. There is nothing wrong with having culture and customs per say. However, I have seen where some ceremonies clash with the word of God and many of them become unsavory salt amongst the salted disciples. Christian Indigenous leaders must discern the parts of our culture which lead us away from God but also those which will benefit our spiritual walk.

Reckoning: A Prayer for Settler Christians

It has been a difficult month.  The recovery of unmarked graves near former Indian Residential School sites in Kamloops in BC, Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan, and Cranbrook, BC has prompted anger, sorrow, and soul-searching across Turtle Island and – because of international news coverage – around the world.  Indigenous Peoples in Canada have been vocal in reminding settler Canadians that the finding of these graves should not come as a surprise: their own testimonies gave witness to their likelihood, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action #71-76

Crying at My Desk on a Tuesday

I am a co-op student studying Urban and Intercultural Ministry at Redeemer University (Ancaster, ON). In January 2021, I began my position as the Hearts Exchanged Program Assistant. Hearts Exchanged is a learning and action journey designed to equip Reformed Christians in Canada to engage with Indigneous people as neighbours. We hope to model ways of undoing past harms and building relationships of respect and mutuality by equipping participants with broadened insights and shared experiences.

Five Black Joy Triggers

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

(My Favorite Things, Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rogers, 1961)

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.    

Tell the Truth & Be Reconciled

“I just think that truth and reconciliation is sequential, that you can’t have the reconciliation without the truth.” - Bryan Stevenson

The times that we are living in are increasingly putting people on the two ends of a spectrum. Responses to Covid, e-learning, racial injustice, and politics has our world in an uproar. One thing that has been difficult to grapple with in my head is the way that we as another. We, as a nation, as well as the body of Christ, are so divided that the revival that many seek seems a bit far off.   

A Tale of Two Wives: Scenes of Systemic Racism and The First Wife

At a church planting conference, I heard this metaphor which really described my own experience with systemic racism. Pastor Norton Lages argued “Canadian culture treats other cultures like an abusive husband who sends his wife to counselling expecting her to change.” If you have even been part of such a situation, you know how messy and hopeless it can be. 

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