Monday, May 25, 2009
Restoring Right Relations
The town of Pembroke has many large and elegant older homes which are reminders of another era of prosperity. The Ottawa River on which the town is situated became the transportation route for the log drives which made lumber barons wealthy, and that prosperity is reflected in the houses. There is still a hockey team in Pembroke called the Lumber Kings.
The Ottawa River was also an essential transportation artery for aboriginal peoples for centuries and as Europeans arrived to take advantage of natural resources there was a clash of cultures.
During the annual meeting of Bay of Quinte conference there were several opportunities to acknowledge the difficult and often unfair relationships between natives and the invading culture. The Christian church was part of that unfairness and the United Church has made the effort to right wrongs in a number of ways.
Early one morning the delegates to conference were invited to the edge of the Ottawa for a tobacco ceremony led by an aboriginal leader. Even though the arena in which we met was within sight of the river, and there is a beautiful park running along the shore, it was the only occasion when we were encouraged to appreciate the beauty of this waterway. Figure that one out.
We realize that this effort to restore right relationships will take generations but the commitment continues. There is lots of information on the United Church commitment to reconciliation on the denominational website.