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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

“Reconciliation is about forging and maintaining respectful relationships.”

This is a quote from The Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  The rest of this quote was, “There are no shortcuts.”

When seeking reconciliation and justice, mutual respect is a must and building healthy relationships can never be circumvented.  All of this takes time.

I learned at a young age that there can never be peace without justice.  My dad worked as a United Church minister and was very involved in justice work.  I grew up in Kenora, Ontario, on Lake of the Woods; I grew up in the shadow of a residential school and hearing terrible racist attitudes against the Anishinabe people of the NW Ontario.  My father was very involved working alongside 1st Nations elders in seeking reconciliation.  He also worked at having the residential school closed.

The Presbyterian Church ran the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora; the church apologized for its actions and the abhorrent experiments carried out there, and the land was eventually turned into a Friendship Centre.  As a child growing up in Kenora, I was warned (not by my parents I might add) by adults not to venture too close to the residential school because bad things might happen to us.  Sadly, still today the Kenora region is full of racist attitudes towards 1st Nations people.  There is still much reconciliation work to do, including in our own area with the Sinixt.

Last Friday marked Remembrance Day, a day to remember and reflect on those who’ve lost their lives dues to war.  For me, Remembrance Day has also become an invitation to reflect on the fact that peace can never be achieved without the hard work of reconciliation and justice.

The Christian spiritual path that I walk calls us to know our neighbours, to forge respectful relationships that are mutual and life-giving, and to see that our neighbours are created in the image and likeness of God.  We stand together as kin, one with all creation.

This post was published in the Nelson Star on the Tapestry page November 9th.

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