Asian, First Nations; no matter where they come from,
they’re part of this whole world.
I teach the love of God, and that’s what I get out of the
Apology—where it started is from the love of God, through
a loving Elder… My dad, who passed away a few years ago,
he’s another one that got me into this. I used to sit at home
watching sports. He went to the feasting, and he would never
say, “Are you going to go?” He’d look at me and say to me,
“Get your things on, we’re going,” just like that. That’s the
kind of leadership I loved.
SARA: I like that phrase, leadership by “just get up and
go.” That sounds a little bit to me like a charge to the church
30 years after the Apology. Let’s just get up and go.
ALBERTA: I often wonder, do things happen in 30-year
spans? Maybe, maybe not.
SARA: Well, we will check in, in 30 years.
Sara Stratton serves The United Church of Canada as
Animator for Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice.
How can the church live out the Apology?
ALBERTA: I really believe that the church
has to accept us. We are Indigenous to the
land from the Creator. We had a way of life
that was very spiritual, we had thanksgiving
for everything… the food from the ocean, the
food from the forest. We lived with the land,
and we need to pursue those values again.
The church made a step in the right direction. Our people still live in poverty all over
this country. Our kids are committing suicide. They’re lost, they don’t understand
what happened. They don’t understand why
we are drenched in alcohol and drugs; they don’t understand
a lot of things. Thirty years ago… we were told not to talk
about it by our own people; “Don’t talk about residential
school.” I think the church is probably doing the best [it] can.
We have so many Native ministers now, and I’m proud of
them. We have that respect, but we also need to know we are
accepted for who we are.
BOB: The church—as we deal with diminished funds,
diminished numbers, increasing age—has two choices. One
is that we try to preserve the church; the other is to remember that our primary purpose in being here is working with
God for the healing of all creation. If we lose sight of that,
anything we spend on trying to preserve the institution is
simply wrong. I have no idea what the church is going to look
like in 30 years. I believe there will be people of the Christian
faith, of all faiths, and of good will who will be trying to
work on that task of healing.
PAM: The church has done so much, but where we need
action now is the people in the pews—and we need to address
the racism that still sits in the pews and encourage them to
see the history and see the value in First Nations culture and
LAWRENCE: Racism in the pews—I dislike that word.
When I stand behind the [pulpit] and I preach a sermon, I
preach the love of God. I preach the love of the people. I send
it forth and I send them out into the world and I tell them to
spread the love of God out there no matter who they come up
against or who they talk to, whether they’re Black, White,
Sr. Eugene and Priscilla Solomon. Their father, Art, designed the cairn
that marks the Apology.
I was absolutely inflamed with
anger that my church taught me to
sing, “Jesus loves the little children,
all the children of the world,” [but]
would send kids [away] and divide
them from their parents. Pam Hart
This transcript has been edited.
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