Sunday, October 18, 2015

First Nations Workshop

I enjoyed attending a workshop yesterday where I discovered many signs of hope beginning to become apparent on the reserves in our area. I was reminded of the Old Testament admonition to not despise the day of small beginnings. It was good to learn how many groups, communities and agencies in our city are working not only to improve conditions for aboriginals here, but also to work toward better integration of aboriginal and white cultures. The number of young aboriginals graduating from high school and going on to graduate from post secondary institutions here is on the rise. The younger generations seem to be more determined to overcome the long term problems carried on through several generations of residential school wounds. While there is a tremendous amount of work to be done, work that will take decades to accomplish, there is a stronger move to eradicate racism on both sides. So, although signs of hope are small, they may be mighty. We are all paying a price for broken treaties. So much work to do.....

The best word of wisdom came from a Roman Catholic sister who works in an urban First Nation context full time. Sister Reanne explained how one of the problems for sympathetic white folk, particularly Christians, is that we have been trained that "helping" means "problem solving", "doing", "fixing", when what is really required of us is simply to listen and to attempt to build relationships within the aboriginal community. Listening to aboriginal people tell their stories is the best thing to do. If they know they are being heard, they are capable of solving their own problems, like any other people group. Our mistake has been in seeing aboriginals as in need of our Great White Help...adding  to the us vs them mentality.

My husband and I are now on Sister's email list to find out where and when some of the local pow wows and other events that are open to the public to attend are happening. We have great gaps in our experience with the other largest local culture and it is time to change that. If the truth is what sets people free, then my husband and I need to learn more of the truth so we can be part of dispelling the racist based lies that still abound against both cultures.

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