While Canada’s Indigenous peoples are an example of strength, determination and resilience – their leaders influencing everything from environmental conservation, to arts and entertainment, to justice and politics, to how we understand our spiritual connection to creation – the pain and suffering they have endured, inflicted systematically by our government and its institutions, is not a thing of the past but remains the cause of tremendous challenges for Indigenous communities everywhere in Canada. It is also a contributing factor in the dis-“ease” and dis-“chord” experienced today by many of us Canadians of European ancestry, and probably also by Newcomers.
This is a time of awakening in Canada’s history. Our descendents will look back upon this time as a window of opportunity to stand up and become allies, friends and partners of our Indigenous peoples – instead of remaining bullies by ignorance, apathy or indifference. This is the time for Canadians of European ancestry (and Newcomers) to learn and understand the truth of the cultural genocide inflicted upon our Indigenous peoples in the name of colonization. This is a time for taking right action and for making amends. We are in the process of creating a new “recipe” for Canada, with the ingredients of education, respect, healing, acts of reconciliation, and partnership.
The pilot Truth and Reconciliation Reflection Series currently underway at the UUCH is the product of a collaborative process. It was developed with respect, over time, by a committee of the CUC, Indigenous Elders, and a committee of the UUCH. This series is a wonderful first step that will help us all move forward, hand-in-hand, with our local Indigenous communities. And this first step is part of a much larger cultural awakening across the country – a cultural awakening that honours Indigenous peoples and generates excitement (and perhaps some fear) about a new culture of Canada rising up from the bedrock. This new Canada will be a drastically different Canada – people and nations will walk forward in partnership – as opposed to the tired 400-year-old model of violence, colonization, and dominance of one culture over another.
In order to achieve the brilliant vision and objective described, small groups and communities like ours across Canada need to forge ahead with sustained efforts to educate, heal, reconcile and walk in partnership with their Indigenous friends and neighbours. This ongoing work to create and maintain connections between ourselves and the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (North America) – in particular Mi’kma’ki – can become a truly invigorating part of our lives.
Ultimately, it will not only be our Indigenous friends who heal and grow, it will also be us who experience healing, redemption, and growth. This in turn will release our children from perpetuating oblivious acts of dominance and oppression over another culture – and open the door to a new Canada.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
‒ Margaret Mead