Rob Irish June 3, 2021
Moving at the Speed of Trust
Like all of you, I was aghast at the discovery of the remains of 215 children under the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. But, as United Church Moderator Richard Bott noted in his prayer following the discovery:
O God, we are horrified.
But, God, if we truly listened, we can’t be surprised.
Like a classic white person, I know my instinct is to jump in and want to fix things. But this is not something we can fix. As one speaker at the CPJ conference said about justice work: “It can only move at the speed of trust.” And, of course, Indigenous peoples have little reason to trust Settler Canadians. So, we can only move slowly.
This call to action came from RoseAnne Archibald, a Candidate for National Chief, 2021:
I call forth our allies. This is a time where we can take a quantum leap in healing together. Call and email/write to Prime Minister Trudeau and your own Premier. Call and email/write to your MPP and MP. Ask them why only 8 out of 94 TRC Calls to Action have been implemented in 5 years? Ask them, for the sake of healing this country, to take action and implement all 94 TRC Calls. Ask for proper memorials to be built and a national day of mourning for the genocide committed against Indigenous people in Canada. Ask all governments to stop fighting First Nations in court and negotiate ALL settlements fairly and honourably.
Embrace your pain and grief and transform it into action that will ensure that our children remain in the loving embrace of their families. As you move forward, keep a positive vision in your mind of happy, healthy children being raised in vibrant communities, surrounded by the deep and abiding love of their families and communities.
Let’s take up her call to embrace the pain and transform it into action for the families. We need to do this in a way that is careful not harmful.
By way of action, our first and most important action is to educate ourselves. We cannot depend on Indigenous peoples to educate us; that places an unfair burden on them. But, we can make use of the wide range of resources out there to help us learn. As we learn, specific actions will become apparent.
Here are three specific places to turn to learn about Residential Schools:
- Canada’s Dark Secret, this is a hard-hitting documentary about Residential Schools. (45 mins)
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Bill C-15 — a panel discussion with three commissioners from the TRC, explaining the importance of Bill C-15 as a step toward reconciliation. (1hr 30 mins)
- Hon. Murray Sinclair, May 28th talk to United Church (link coming soon—and we’re planning a viewing party and discussion).
I will encourage you to look at two videos on the http://www.redclover.ca/resources website. These pertain to the “doctrine of discovery” and provide a good background on the racist underpinnings of our country—ideas that most of us have never really considered, but which to be honest, deeply affect our attitudes. These are the powers and principalities that we must fight against for the sake of Christ.
- 2015 Sacred Circle — Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald provides an excellent explanation of the “Doctrine of Discovery”—a concept we all need to understand (10 mins)
- Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery — a longer look at how that doctrine has driven racist policy and needs to be dismantled (45 mins)
Trust cannot be built as long as we know so little and until we accept the hard truth that Canadian society has discriminated for centuries against Indigenous people (and still does today). So, becoming informed is our first step.
If you are sure we must do more, wait for part II …