This is not going to be a typical post because it has absolutely nothing to do with thrift shopping. It does, however, have to do with peace and I am, after all, a thrift shopper for peace!
Something very important is happening in Vancouver this week. It’s called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This is one of several gatherings that have happened all across Canada, in which indigenous, First Nations people and settlers (like me) have come together to hear the truth about the Indian Residential School system and to begin a process of reconciliation.
I believe that it’s very important to be part of this event and I am going to try and take in as much of it as I can. Why?
Because as a Canadian, I share this history with my aboriginal neighbours. The often devastating effects of the residential schools on this community have been long-lasting, generational. That story needs to be told and it needs to be heard. If I care about my neighbours, then I need to accept the privilege of listening and learning.
Because as a Christian, I also share this history with my aboriginal neighbours. I am part of the church and this is a shameful part of the church’s history. As I listen and learn, I also need to accept the opportunity to say “I’m sorry for what happened in the past. Help me learn, so that I will not repeat these mistakes in the future.”
Because as a parent, I cannot imagine anyone taking my child away. Ever.
Because as a person committed to peace, I want to be part of reconciling, part of the way forward and I can only do that if I take time to be open, to listen, to accept responsibility, to ask for forgiveness.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting Isadore Charters (above), a member of the Okanagan nation and an amazing artist. Isadore was taken from his family and sent to a residential school where he experienced abuse. His abuse led to alcoholism but his art became a way of healing. Isadore is a painter and sculptor. He is a gentle, kind soul. It is amazing to me, that despite the abuse he experience at the hands of the church, he is also a Christian. You can see a short video with him here.
Isadore is carving a reconciliation totem pole and often, when he visits a place and tells his story, the totem goes along and he lets people carve it with him. I had that privilege too and I can hardly describe what that felt like. That, friends, is reconciliation. He will be at the TRC with his totem and I encourage you to visit and meet him.
The Vancouver TRC is happening at the Pacific National Exhibition fairgrounds from Wednesday September 18-Saturday September 21. There are also two “bookend” events happening: on Tuesday, there will be a canoe flotilla that will travel from Kitsilano to False Creek and it will be made up of people from all walks of life. My husband will be part of a canoe of Mennonite participants. On Sunday, there will be a peace walk in downtown Vancouver and one of the highlights of that event will be an address by Bernice King – the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. Won’t that be something?
Okay, here’s the thrift part: the whole thing is free. I hope I see you there!