This past weekend, Carragh, Ben and I travelled to the beautiful Cape Croker, home of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceeded First Nation. We learned about our Indigenous hosts, the history of the church and its relationship with Indigenous peoples, and traditional cultural and historical teachings through The Presbyterian Church’s Justice Ministries and our generous hosts.
After a time of food and fellowship, we began Friday night by smudging, a practice of burning sage as a ritual cleansing. We shared our hopes, our fears and questions that we have. Surrounding the fire, we made a medicine wheel out of our bodies.
On Saturday, we discussed the Presbyterian Church’s involvement in Residential Schools, the Church’s ongoing process of Reconciliation, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 recommendations (to churches, governments and all Canadians. It was our hope to learn how we can restore relations with Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.
As a group, we completed The KAIROS The Blanket Exercise, where we explored the nation-to-nation relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. Through the representation of blankets arranged on the floor, we began to see the impact that colonization and loss of land has had on Aboriginal people as the blankets are folded up and removed. Through this difficult activity, we considered how to begin to heal broken relationships.
One of the most beautiful things we learned was that Aboriginal Spirituality has a lot of similarities to Christianity. We call God different names, but can come together as respectful people honouring each other’s traditions.
We are looking forward to pursuing Truth and Reconciliation ministry in PYPS!