The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – September 30th, 2021
The big question I ask myself today is, how do we imagine a reconciled Canada?
I first came to Canada in January of 2017, at the start of Canada 150. As an American, I didn’t know anything about Canadian history, except that Hockey started there, around the time my Irish ancestors were settled, for three generations, in Nova Scotia.
My Media & Communications Theory professor, Dr. Naaman Wood, had organized a program to remember 150 years of Canadian history through a lens of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s final report. We connected our learnings in classes to the things we were learning together about Canada’s brutal history, and brutal reality.
The most present theme in all that I was learning is that we, individually and collectively, have imagined our realities.
We, in the USA, imagined a reality that included enslavement of our fellow believers, the genocide and displacement of Indigenous peoples, the segregation of races, internment camps for Asian-Americans.
We, in Canada, imagined residential schools, foster care that systematically disrupts first nations families, taking children away from their families and culture. We imagined First Nations children in prisons, on the streets, drinking poisoned water, denied education, living in crowded houses for lack of homes. We imagined a world in which women and girls simply disappear.
How do we imagine these things? We imagine them when we speak.
When we talk about civilizing a wild frontier, assimilating minorities into Canadian culture, when we considered one part of our country the mission field, while the rest, though secular, was just where we lived.
In truth, we have used our imaginations on our history, burying the bodies literally and figuratively. And so we need truth.
Truth about the past, and truth about the present. Truth about our society as a whole, our churches and communities, our biases, and the stories we each individually tell ourselves about the world we live in.
We need to tell the truth about how we continue to act upon Indigenous peoples’ bodies and land and culture, to deny their presence simply by refusing to acknowledge it as a legitimate presence.
What kind of future do we imagine for Canada? Does it look much like Canada today?
I invite you to join me as I reimagine, and in seeking out Indigenous Peoples’ voices to help shape our imaginations of what Canada is, and what it could be.
Here are some of my favourite resources for re-envisioning ourselves as a church and as a nation.
Holly Fortier’s short documentary A Mother’s Voice, featuring her mother talking about her lived experience in Residential schools
Mark Charles unpacking the Doctrine of Discovery