Sunday, June 22, 2014

Aboriginal Sunday

        United Church Crest -- Four Colours of Medicine Wheel -- Mohawk phrase"all my relations."

There was no intention to have our service out-of-doors today in support of our Aboriginal Sunday, but I'm pleased the two coincide. Aboriginal Sunday is always on the weekend of the Summer Solstice. We are at the home and property of members Kay and Burle Summers, who are hospitality personified. They and we are north of Belleville and the back of their land to the west abuts the Moira River. The Moira is one of several waterways the Mississauga bands used to travel between their summer and winter communities. As with many First Nations, they had the sense to move away from large bodies of water during the coldest months and rivers were their highways. We have travelled a stretch of the Moira south from Highway 37 toward Belleville, and it is beautiful, with no human habitation. Paddlers can imagine a different time in that section.

Of course we don't live in the 18th or 19th centuries. In the 21st we are still trying to figure out to live in respectful coexistence with aboriginal peoples, and without stereotypes and paternalism. They are the First Nations, the original inhabitants who signed treaties in good faith with European nations. They were not the vanquished, but equal partners in most of those treaties, but that is not how Europeans acted.

Sadly, the missionaries bringing the gospel often acted as agents of the oppressors. The United Church and other denominations have confessed their complicity in the Residential Schools which in many cases practiced cultural genocide. If you think this is ancient history, the last United Church residential school closed in 1969. There are plenty of people around who were students in those schools.

In our worship this morning we will include some prayers written by First Nations persons, including former moderator Stan McKay. We will remind ourselves that our Christian faith can coexist and learn from Native spiritual expressions which honour the Creator. In a day when we are also realizing that we have subjugated the Earth to our peril, we can listen to those voices.

I should also share news of several events in the next week around a Travelling Toward Right Relations Canoe Trip :The aim of this journey is to understand and begin to move beyond the colonial relationships that have existed between Canada and First Nations.  Also, to engage communities in thinking about the importance of our local waters, possibly picking up the challenge of becoming a “Blue Community” (see for more info).                                                                               

I hope you are part of our service today! Thoughts?

1 comment:

Judy Mcknight said...

Looking forward to it - always great to be at Kay and Burle's place!