Sunday, November 12, 2017

Churches are called to action

Joyce Sasse - Changes don’t come easy for church folk. Recently, as an act of reconciliation and to acknowledge traditions of the land, my church started opening Sunday services with the following. “For thousands of years, First Nations people have worked on this land: their relationships with the land is at the centre of their lives and spirituality. We gather on the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, and acknowledge their stewardship of the land throughout the ages.”

Some congregants are appreciative of the carefully worded statement. Others are upset because, they say, “I don’t come to church to be made to feel guilty about something over which I had no control.”

When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada called the churches to action (in 2015), it was an invitation for both Natives and Non-Natives to “reset” our relationships.

All of us went astray. Senator Murray Sinclair explained things so well. “For seven generations Aboriginal children were told their lives were not as good as the non-Aboriginals of this country. Their languages and cultures were irrelevant … their people and their ancestors were heathens and pagans … uncivilized … they needed to give up those ways of life and come to a different way of living… Furthermore, white children were taught the same thing…” (Italics mine)

We all are victims of these policies. We all need to lament the misunderstandings. Now is the time for all of us to reset ourselves and find more positive ways to understand each other.

John Ralston Saul writes about the remarkable resurgence of Aboriginal peoples, not only in terms of numbers, but to positions of increasing power, creativity and influence. He says the ways in which our society responds to this opportunity is the greatest issue of our time, the one for which we will be remembered and judged by history. (Italics mine)

As a caring people, we can move forward.

(Note: The Traditional Blackfoot Confederacy extended from the North Saskatchewan to the Yellowstone rivers, and from the Continental Divide to the Saskatchewan Sand Hills.)

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