As I write, I acknowledge that I am on Treaty 1 territory. I began to understand the importance of being aware of that as our feature article took shape. However I have barely begun to understand the implications of such acknowledgements.
I’ve learned that I walk in the footsteps of my forbears. They were among the first settlers to farm in southern Ontario. I’ve always been somewhat aware of Indigenous people living nearby wherever I’ve lived in Canada. Yet I’ve had little inkling of what their lives were like and no notion that we share a history of treaties to be honoured.
Our feature reminds us of some of the steps the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada has been taking. If you are one of the third of non-Indigenous Canadians who have not yet become aware of our sorry history of the way Indigenous people in Canada have been treated and the challenges that we face, this should be a helpful introduction.
Senator Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission rightly said, “If it took seven generations to mess things up this bad, it’ll take at least seven to mend it.”
The Kairos booklet Strength for Climbing advises that we need to be patient with ourselves and with the process. However, it is important that each of us step into the journey of reconciliation as our delegates to the 2015 National Convention pledged on our behalf: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada “will walk with Indigenous peoples in their ongoing efforts to exercise their inherent sovereignty and fundamental human rights and renew our commitment to truth, reconciliation and equity.”
Learning to listen is part of the journey. As your editor, helping this feature take shape has taught me how much I still have to learn. I am used to hiring photographers and have models pose for some photos that can be used in the magazine to illustrate an article. The people who pose are often thrilled to be invited and ask for lots of copies to share with family and friends.
However, when I began to do that for this feature, I had not thought about what such an approach would mean to an Indigenous person. There is a history of using photos to give false impressions and hide or mask the truth about the reality of what Indigenous people have been experiencing. I am grateful that Rev. Murray Still, who is one of the people consulted in developing our material, helped me to understand that.
It’s just one example of the steps we need to take. There will be many more. “Trust in the Spirit’” advises Strength for Climbing.
Here’s a peek at some other things in this issue.
Assumptions and consequences, p. 9, is a good companion piece to our feature. It may sharpen your resolve to think more before speaking.
Two other companion pieces to the feature worth a look are Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies, p. 22, and Bishop Elaine Sauer’s thoughts about her visit to Tatskweyak Cree Nation on Treaty 5 land, p. 27.
Have you thought about the implications of buying inexpensive products for those who produce those products? Into the Word, p. 31, engages such considerations.
Kenn Ward, Editor