In time for National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21), I want to suggest a good book to introduce non-indigenous people to a healthier perspective to Indigenous Christian Spirituality.
Richard Twiss, a member of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux tribe, believes there are no other people so uniquely positioned to share the good news of Jesus across cultures.
How can this be, you might ask, in view of the Canadian genocide of Indigenous peoples?
Indigenous peoples have proven themselves to be a resilient people group whose patient lament over decades had resulted in the Truth and Reconciliation movement – even though today it sounds more faint than when it began.
For followers of Christ of all cultures, truth and reconciliation are intertwined. These are not uniquely Christian ideas, but I will suggest, only nations that are informed by a Christian ethic will have a sense of facing truth and paying the price of reconciliation.
You will not see this kind of movement in China in response to Mao killing some 45 million of his own people, or in Russia regarding the atheist Soviet Holodomor of some 12 million Ukrainians, or in Turkey regarding their genocide of Armenians (and the list can go on and on). There is no philosophical or theological framework in those cultures to face their genocides.
It is, however, mere cold comfort that Canada (like South Africa before) is trying to integrate truth and reconciliation into the fabric of its culture, history, and the ongoing narrative of a nation. It is not time to pat ourselves on the back; it is still time to take the costly actions of doing the right things and undoing the harms.
Meanwhile: Canadian Chief beaten up by Police
Meanwhile Canada has its own race issues caught on camera: New video shows RCMP tackling and punching Alberta Chief Allan Adam in arrest.
You can watch the video for yourself; yes it’s clumsy and not straight forward… but can we agree – the force outweighs the alleged violation:
“The RCMP have said Adam’s truck had expired plates and the video shows Adam getting in and out of the vehicle, aggressively removing his coat and using expletives as he complains about being harassed by police.”
This over expired plates? Really?
There should be no illusion that the work is complete.
So much of the 94 Calls to Action has to do with non-indigenous peoples getting informed – which is why I suggest Richard Twiss’ book above as one small starting point.
But more: it is to get informed in order to take action. Here is the portion of the 94 Calls to Actions as it relates to the Church:
- We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.
- We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.
- We call upon leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.
- We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement, in collaboration with Survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for:
i. Community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects.
ii. Community-controlled culture- and language- revitalization projects.
iii. Community-controlled education and relationship- building projects.
iv. Regional dialogues for Indigenous spiritual leaders and youth to discuss Indigenous spirituality, self- determination, and reconciliation.
Truth and Reconciliation – it is “the Long Walk of Doing and Undoing.”