Sunday, June 26, 2016

First Canadians & Canada Day

Last Sunday was First Nations Sunday in many United Church congregations, the Sunday closest to National Aboriginal Day, which is celebrated on the first day of Summer each year. We didn't observe it last week because of our focus this morning.
The Bridge St congregation has observed Canada Day, which used to be called Dominion Day, for many years. I always like Dominion Day and when the Globe and Mail newspaper started a campaign to retain the name I literally bought the tee-shirt. But Canada Day is really more appropriate because it comes from an Iroquois word which means settlement or village.

The Bridge St. tradition is a nice one,  although it has been observed in a rather British way over time, complete with a bagpiper. Today we are acknowledging and hopefully honouring the first peoples, the first nations of this country who had their own cultures and faith expressions “long before my people journeyed to this land,” as the United Church apology puts it.

We have as our guest David Mowat (to the left in the photo) of the Alderville First Nation, which has a traditional connection with Bridge St, through our Methodist roots. Bridge St. established a mission on Grape Island in the Bay of Quinte with more than one hundred First Nations residents. It was unrealistic, to put in mildly, We have paddled out to the island and it's hard to imagine how that many people could have survived through Winters there, let alone flourished. Within a short time this group moved to Alderville.
David has been very involved with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, so his thoughts and reflections will be timely. The United Church has a mixed relationship with First Nations in this country and our involvement in the Residential Schools is our greatest shame. We hope that every effort toward mending broken relations are working toward healing will make a difference.

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