Sunday, June 17, 2018
Indigenous Day of Prayer
Let us give thanks to our Creator
for the Creator is always with us.
God is with us in the call of a loon
and in the flight of an eagle.
Our Creator is with us in the changing of the seasons.
God is with us when we gather together
and when we are alone.
Our Creator is with us in our giftedness
and in our search for new understandings of ourselves,
new visions of our communities.
Prayer for Indigenous Day of Prayer
All my Relations or Mitakuye-Oyasin (pronounced mi-TAHK-wee-a-say or Mee-tah-koo-yay Oy-yah-seen) is a saying in the Obijway or Lakota language meaning We are all related or All are related.
Thursday of this week is the 22nd anniversary of National Aboriginal Peoples Day in Canada. It is a celebration which coincides with the summer solstice and over the years the number of events held on this important day across the country has grown. There are nearly 1.7 million aboriginal people in Canada, with approximately 600,000 of them being Metis. This is 5% of the Canadian population and they are younger, on average, than the population as a whole.
The United Church of Canada has been engaged in a process of apology, healing, and reconciliation with Native Peoples for the past thirty years and more, in part because of our participation in the Residential School debacle, an exercise in colonialism and cultural genocide which was not the Good News of Jesus Christ it was supposedly intended to be.
There are worship resources for this day, including the prayer above, some congregations welcome First Nations speakers, and there is the United Church crest which now includes the colours of the four directions and the words in Mohawk which are "all my relations," the equivalent of the United Church motto, "that all may be one" from John's gospel.
The balance between celebration and contrition is an uneasy one, to say the least. There is so much that is positive to acknowledge in the reemergence of identity and pride for Native communities. At the same time, many Aboriginal communities deal with the lack of clean water and inadequate education for children. Youth suicide is a tragedy which recurs. Federal governments make promises about recognizing the sovereignty of First Nations in negotiations over land use and getting to the heart of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, but disappoint again and again.
Today we can also acknowledge that while we are appalled by the separation of migrant children and parents in the United States, that is what happened with Residential Schools and still happens today. Far more First Nations children are in foster care today than at the height of the residential schools of an earlier era.
It is important for us to pray today and every day that our country will move beyond prejudice and injustice in all our relations.