On Truth, Reconcilation, Peace and Thrift

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!

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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?

aboriginal mother and child

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.

We visited this ex-residential school in Alert Bay several years ago. Ironically, it is now the Band office. the red bricks were once painted white - but the aboriginal fellow who gave us a tour pointed out that the "red" eventually overpowered the "white" - there's something really great about that symbolism!

We visited this ex-residential school in Alert Bay several years ago. Ironically, it is now the Band office. the red bricks were once painted white – but the aboriginal fellow who gave us a tour pointed out that the “red” eventually overpowered the “white” – there’s something really great about that symbolism!

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.”

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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.

Isadore holding mask

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 carving

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!

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2 Responses to On Truth, Reconcilation, Peace and Thrift

  1. Dawn says:

    Thanks for sharing about this event. I’m in the US and my father and his mother and father all went to residential boarding schools. Not too long ago I was visiting with my grandma, she is 98 this year, and she tells me stories about school. I think the worst part is that she was hungry all the time. She and her friends would try to figure out ways to get extra food at dinner and save it for later knowing they could get in a lot of trouble if they got caught. As a mom myself it is hard to imagine just like you said. Not only to have your kids taken away to school but to know they are hungry or cold or mistreated. Very sad. But my grandma is a good Catholic and raised my dad that way and we are Catholics too. I always told my kids they need to do well in school and excel for their grandpa and they great grandparents who didn’t. They all dropped out of school as soon as they were old enough to do so and went home. Definitely made live harder for them.

    • thanks so much for sharing your story! it is just amazing to me that people can experience abuse at the hands of the church and still remain faithful to the church. proof that God is good inspite of us, i guess. survivors here have also told stories of going hungry – in fact, the media recently reported that children were made to go hungry as part of “nutritional experiments”. unbelievable. i’m glad to hear that your grandma left you a positive legacy and it sounds like you’re creating a positive legacy for your kids too!

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