Black Lives Matter
Indigenous Lives Matter
Lives of People of Colour Matter
I have brought back the three-line header as a reminder that the issues of prejudice, discrimination, and racism continue to plague our society. The focus today is on “Indigenous Lives Matter.”
Thursday, September 30, 2021, will be the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The day has been established by the federal government of Canada to provide an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect on the legacy of Indian residential schools specifically, and the effects, generally, of other examples of systemic racism experienced in the daily lives of Indigenous persons in this country.
Beginning in early July, I have been participating in an online course called “Indigenous Canada,” which is offered through the University of Alberta. Topics covered included the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art, and its expressions.
We have had a weekly discussion group of people from Canada West Mission Centre (and a few from Canada East) to debrief what we heard and saw in each week’s presentations. It has been an informative and illuminating experience and I encourage anyone to check it out. The course is available for free.
The course has provided much food for thought as I consider the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The course presented excellent history and background on the experience of the Indigenous community in Canada over the last 150 years – and really the last 500 years. I am still considering what kind of a response it requires of me to be supportive of the initiatives of reconciliation.
For a quick (or in-depth, if you choose) introduction to the issues of reconciliation, consult the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, and especially their resources supporting “Truth and Reconciliation Week.”
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation has been set on September 30 because that is the date used in recent years to mark “Orange Shirt Day.” I won’t take up space here to tell that story. You can read about in the words of the woman who had her orange shirt taken from her on her first day at a residential school here.
When we act to support reconciliation with Indigenous persons, I suggest that we are being consistent with Jesus’ statement of the “second” commandment (after “love the Lord your God…”): “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) We also give expression to a number of our church’s “Enduring Principles,” including “Worth of All Persons,” “Pursuit of Peace (Shalom),” and “Unity in Diversity.”
Even if you are reading this after September 30, I encourage you to give some thought to the priority of reconciliation in our communities and what role you might find to personally support those efforts.
As always, I pray for you God’s blessings of joy, hope, love, and peace in these challenging times.
Canada West Mission Centre President
community of christ
355 Elmira Road North, Unit 129
Guelph, ON N1K 1S5 Canada
Canada West Mission: 877-411-2632
Canada East Mission: 888-411-7537