As you may know, yesterday The Road Church participated in The Blanket Exercise. It is a learning tool to help non-indigenous Canadians know more of the history of Indigenous people’s in Canada and what the effects of those stories that are still being felt and dealt with today. I was surprised at the level of impact it had on me to watch my own children, not really having a clue what was going on, being taken to another part of the sanctuary represent Residential Schools. This small bit of walking in someone else’s shoes has been and will continue to be a point of transformation for me. The question I couldn’t get away from yesterday, feeling that as I watched my girl’s head walk away was “How does anyone come back from that?”
It is an eye-opening exercise and we did it on a weekend where Indigenous/non-Indigenous tensions are at the forefront in the news with the Colton Boushie verdict. At The Road Church these last few months, we have been talking about what justice looks like in general, in the bible and why we need to engage with that word and all its implications for our real lives in Calgary (check out the website for any sermons you might have missed). And in many ways, The Blanket Exercise was a good way to end the series while at the same time, it was a jumping off point. In very real ways, it highlighted the open-ended nature of the questions we asked. As we debriefed at the end, so many people said, “Its such a layered history,” and “So what do we do now?”
If you are looking for more information here are some websites you can look to.
Check out the website for the CRC’s Aboriginal Ministry and the Canadian Aboriginal Ministries Committee. These will give you a sense of our broader community’s engagement with the issues as well as worship/reflective resources for you to look at. CAMC has just this week also put out a reflection for Lent which reflects on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s and our Faith-Full response to it.
As well, make sure you check out the magazine Faith Today for articles by Calgarian theologian Mark Buchanon and Christian-Indigenous leader Cheryl Bear on what it means to be reconciled as Christians. As Cheryl Bear writes, “We can be better together. What are our first steps?”
If you are interested in further discussion on what the reconciliation with our Indigenous neighbors that is being asked for looks like and what it means to respond as Christians to this real-life justice issue on our doorsteps, we are going to host a Truth and Reconciliation Report Reading Group with its first meeting being Thursday Feb. 15 at 7pm at The Road Church.
As always, what was most striking about the day spent with the exercise and with our facilitator Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes was that, even though our worldviews and spiritual understandings are different between Christians and Indigenous peoples, we don’t need to collapse them into sameness to see the value in each other, to be welcoming to each other and MOST IMPORTANTLY to take one another’s stories seriously. That is an important things to hold on to. When we talk about God doing his work of reconciliation, its this – that HE does this work in our hearts when we let down our guard and see each other as God sees us all – as His beloved children.
The longing for justice is the longing for putting things to rights. Every human has this longing innately working within them – for ourselves and for others. As we ourselves are healed inside and out, we then look to be a part of the healing of others. What would happen if we continue to follow this longing? Where would that thread lead us? What story would we actually be telling then? What story do we indeed live out of? In His grace and peace, and only by the power of that grace and peace, we will walk down this road together.