Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Can we Change?
Last week I had a brief conversation with a member of the St. Paul's congregation who is an RCMP officer and often works in the Ontario North with native communities. He was on his way once again. Our family lived in Northern Ontario for eleven years so we touched on the seeming inability of people to connect the plight of aboriginal individuals and communities with the root causes of oppression in this country. I appreciated his sensitivity because he often sees the worst. I saw some of it as well, as the minister of a downtown Sudbury church.
Since we talked the terrible circumstances in Attawapiskat have made their way into the news. Even though winter approaches and many people in this remote community are living in tents without adequate clean water or food, governments have been slow to respond. Even now as aid arrives the government officials who are responsible have not visited the community.
At the same time there have been meetings across the country to consider the grim realities of education for First Nations children. While governments and churches have apologised for the Native School system of the past, the truth is that many young people must still leave their communities to attend high school and their departure from familiar surroundings often results in tragedy.
I really do consider this the shame of a country which is such a leader in human rights in other parts of the world. To add to it all, some band leaders have betrayed their own people, taking huge salaries and siphoning money away from essential services for their gain.
On White Gift Sunday our children will do a presentation based on The Huron Carol. I wonder if they know that native communities still exist, something that didn't come home to our family in a very real way until we lived in the north. I have mentioned before that our kids went to a school where native children attended but some people suggested we might want them to go elsewhere because of that.
Any thoughts or comments? How can we keep these issues before our southern Ontario congregations without just piling on a load of guilt?