interrelated…

[Please pardon a lengthy intro as I share a moment of synchronicity: I am on a personal retreat but still reading in preparation for our new program in Reconciliation Studies: Truth-telling and Reconciling with Indigenous Peoples. Early this morning, I was reading the chapter called “Creation Songs” from Sherri Mitchell’s, Sacred Instructions. As I was contemplating the passage shared below, I noticed that my random playlist was playing “Creation Dance” by Bruce Cockburn and that the cover of that album was a painting by Norval Morrisseau, whose work I had just admired at the National Gallery two days earlier after learning about him from Chris Beaver’s amazing podcast, “The Art of Sovereignty.” Interrelated indeed.]

“We all originate from the same divine source, and we will all return to that source when our learning is complete. During our journey, we will have many of the same experiences, seeing the world and one another from multiple angles and through multiple lifetimes. Sadly, there will also be times when we will lose sight of this basic fact. During those times, we will become lost in the unfolding stories of our own individualized realities.

Albert Einstein once talked about the illusion that is created by this belief in separation. He described it as a prison that restricts our awareness of connection to the whole:

A human being is part of the whole we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself in the thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living beings and all of nature.

This is an idea that still seems fantastic to many people around the world. But it is a belief that has been held by Indigenous peoples since the beginning of time. Our songs, stories, and mythologies all speak of our interrelatedness. From birth, we are taught to be aware of the expanded kinship networks that surround us, which her human beings along with the beings of the land, water, d the plants, trees, and all remaining unseen beings that exist within our universe. This multisensory understanding of life is now blossoming across the planet, and we are witnessing humanity awaken to a whole new level of being. We are able to recognize, for perhaps the first time in our history, that we are in the process of an evolutionary leap, which makes this a very exciting time to be alive. Our challenge is to remember all of who we are. We begin this process by expanding our awareness to include the entire creation…”

  • Sherri Mitchell, Sacred Instructions (2018)

learning is the thing

[On top of the pandemic and any personal reasons that you might have for feeling sadness, there has recently been deep grief about the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC (and the awareness that there are many more of these discoveries ahead). In response to sadness, one choice is learning…]:

The best thing for being sad is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies. You may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins. You may miss your only love. You may see the world around you devastated by evil lunatics or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it, then: To learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.

  • T. H. White, The Once and Future King

rejecting the legal fiction of “discovery”

[Excerpts from a statement (and not guilty plea) from one of those found guilty today and sentenced to a week in jail by the Supreme Court of BC as a result of his stand in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples resisting the Trans Mountain Pipeline]:
We were invited as people of prayer to join those who were lifting their  hearts in ceremony on the frontlines. We were invited to ponder, in that contested space, what our commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action mean — including Call #49 (the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery) and Call #48 (the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ). But we were also invited to act; to stand up in solidarity and support the peaceable struggle against the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline through untreatied Tsleil-Waututh lands and waters.

And so I did.

I chose to act because at the center of the Christian faith lies the conviction that the Creator suffers with the oppressed; that God takes sides with the victims over-against the dominant powers; and that the people who see the issues of our day most clearly are those pushed to the sociopolitical margins.

I chose to act because my church has publicly rejected the legal fictions of Discovery and together with communities of faith across these lands, has committed itself to “a new relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples, based on sharing, respect and the recognition of rights and responsibilities.”
– Steve Heinrichs, director of Indigenous-Settler Relations for Mennonite Church Canada. Click here for complete statement including footnotes for the above.

how we read the bible

[in one of those lovely and timely moments, I read this yesterday- after reading the news and the misuse of Romans 13…]

The Bible has been used as a tool of colonialism, xenophobia, exclusion, and cultural genocide. It still is. But this does not have to be. For centuries, communities of radical compassion and courage have read and re-read the sacred page in creative and critical fashion, so that these old memories shake the powers from their thrones and bring actual change to those who have been kept down…. The Bible must be lived (and enjoyed) in streams of justice, or it is a dead word.

not worthy of human considerations

As a person of First Nations ancestry I cannot help but wonder if the failure of Caucasian Americans and Canadians to reveal and teach about the horrors their ancestors carried out against North American First Nations Peoples during and after colonial times is a deliberate cover-up or an indication that they hold within their minds a notion that the life of a First Nations person is valueless – not worthy of human considerations. The latter is probably the more plausible, because it is an unchallengeable fact that the crimes against humanity that were committed against our Peoples over the centuries by people of European descent are not viewed with the same abhorrence by Caucasians that such crimes against other races of people are viewed. If such were the case there would be unconditional condemnation of it, and the knowledge would be readily available and taught in schools.

  • Daniel N. Paul, We Were Not the Savages: Collision between European and Native American Civilizations (2006)

(These sobering words are a reminder of the changes that we are needing and wanting to make in terms of education. They come from a well-documented history of the treatment of the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples in the Maritimes by European colonizers. This work, along with many others, is part of our library’s new Indigenous Studies Collection, which was in turn part of our Education for Reconciliation project made possible by a grant from Stronger Together.)