Hello friends on the journey of reconciliation;
Recommended Reading: The Comeback by John Ralston Saul and Red Skins, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition by Glen Coulthard
I went to hear Saul in Toronto on Nov. 12 at the launch of his new book The Comeback, along with native studies professor Hayden King, emcee Lisa Charleyboy, singer Christa Couture, dancer Waawaate Fobister, and Rain Ocean, spoken word artist. What an empowering and hope-filled evening. Statements like “Reconciliation without restitution is meaningless” and “Sympathy is a way to deny our shared reality” and “I will only be defined by the steps I decide to take” were challenging in a good way. Proceeds from the evening went to the “Memory, Meaning-Making and Collections” project, a unique partnership between the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and the University of Toronto.
Saul also recommended a new book by Glen Coulthard “Red Skins, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition” , a critique of contemporary colonialism. You can watch a live webcast of a panel discussion with Coulthard at Simon Fraser University on Oct.22 http://www.sfu.ca/sfuwoodwards/events/events1/2014-2015-fall/GlenCoulthardRedSkinWhiteMask.html
Take Action – Haida Nation joins Pull Together campaign
On Nov. 7, we circulated a Take Action notice to ‘Pull Together to Support BC First Nations’ to raise money to build a legal defense fund for 5 First Nations seeking a judicial review of the processes and decisions surrounding the Northern Gateway Pipeline. For more information, see http://www.united-church.ca/getinvolved/takeaction/141107 On Nov. 14, the Haida Nation became the 6th nation to join the campaign; and the goal was increased from $250,000 to $300,000. As of today, over $225,000 has been raised. For updates on the campaign, see http://pull-together.ca/category/stories/ . Please let me know if your congregation decides to host a fundraising event.
News story from Winnipeg: Pentecostal Church bans smudging; Central Mennonite Committee postpones concert
This story should give us all pause for thought about how we learn about and are sensitive to Aboriginal beliefs and spiritual practices, and respect how they are conducted and where.
Augustine United Church features at the end of the CBC story. There is also a link within the story to another op ed piece by Pastor Swan defending the church’s right to exercise their rules.
One can only pray that some good will come from all this publicity and discussion.
State of First Nations Education
Aboriginal Affairs has released a report on the performance of Aboriginal students. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/first-nations-students-in-ontario-and-alberta-failing-in-literacy-math-1.2837823
These troubling, though not surprising, results call us to renew our letter-writing to Minister Valcourt asking the government to address the funding gap in First Nations Education now, and to separate the funding concerns from the passage of Bill C-33 First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.
Why Don’t Post Secondary Students Have Better Knowledge of Indigenous Issues?
Researcher Anevich at Queen’s University explores the question: “When… it’s a whole lot of people have a lack of knowledge that systematically disadvantages other people, then you have to stop and look at it and say ‘why do I not know what is evident around me?'” she said. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/university-students-surveyed-on-knowledge-of-indigenous-issues-1.2826639
We celebrate that Brad Baker, North Vancouver’s first Aboriginal teacher in 1995 will receive the Indigenous Educator Award in Leadership at a ceremony on Thursday in Toronto. Read about the wonderful innovations he has initiated in the school district http://www.nsnews.com/news/carving-a-new-path-in-education-1.1588261 . More such teachers like Brad and his supervisor may help to address the roots of ignorance about indigenous issues.