The Long Road Towards Reconciliation
The Reconciliation Journey with our Indigenous Neighbours
This past weekend, on our Facebook page, I posted a paragraph that indicated that we have a “problem” that we need to address: our relationships with our indigenous sisters and brothers here in Canada. The blanket exercise we did last Sunday was a way to explore this together and to learn more about the historical roots of some of the contemporary expressions of that relationship.
But using the term “problem” is, well, problematic! In some ways, that is how the relationship with Indigenous Peoples has been defined. The relational focus has been on the difficulty, the obstacle, the inconvenience. The relational efforts have zeroed in on discussions, on proposing solutions, like dealing with an unruly child.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission brought a small portion of this painful and complex issue into the national conversation. Indigenous people have shared their truth from their hearts. Canadians have been gifted with the truth of our shared history. The question now becomes “Have you listened?” “Has your heart been touched?”
The TRC Commissioners have also called for action. Action that will redefine this relationship. Action that will bring reconciliation.
So how should we respond as Christians?
First, I think we need to approach the conversation not as a “problem” to be solved but rather out of our foundational conviction that God cares for all nations and peoples. The full ministry of reconciliation, then, addresses both the personal and corporate relations between people. “Reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships. There are no shortcuts” (Justice Murray Sinclair).
Since we ran out of time to talk about the “WHAT DO WE DO NOW?” part of our conversation, we offer a few suggestions here:
1) Take a posture of learning
There are many helpful resources out there. Start with some of the follow up ones to the Blanket Exercise at https://www.kairosblanketexercise.org/resources/supporting-resources/
2) Explore Advocacy work
The work of justice often involves speaking up. For example, this month, the House of Commons had the second reading of Bill C-262, a private members bill urging the Government of Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
The Declaration is a set of minimum standards to ensure Indigenous peoples’ human rights are respected. It is a framework for reconciliation.
Suggested Action Item: We invite you to join with other Christians in urging the Canadian government to fulfill its commitment to reconciliation by supporting the passage of this important bill through Parliament. Send a message to your local Member of Parliament.
You can read more about the the UNDRIP at https://mcccanada.ca/get-involved/advocacy/campaigns/why-support-bill-c-262-undrip-act
3) Pursue and Tell Stories of HOPE
You may have left last Sunday with a sense of guilt or shame around our shared history. But guilt is usually a poor motivator. Why not make a commitment that when you come across a ‘good news story’ about positive reconciliation between settlers and indigenous persons, share it!
Video: For a unique story about how some of the Mennonites in Saskatchewan are responding, check out the Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies video (approximately 30 minutes). https://www.reserve107thefilm.com/
Our thanks again to MCC BC and C2C Network their continued work to build respectful relationships and create opportunities for healing in response to the TRC calls to action. Here at Jericho, we want to be a church who explores this ministry of reconciliation and who commits to a process of healing within our communities, the strengthening of Indigenous culture, and the building of new friendships. Because “all this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:18)