In October our church hosted a seminar called First Steps (see below). This was an effort sponsored by Canadian Baptists of Western Canada. This initiative was to honour the request of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They ask that churches respond with openness and understanding to First Nations. We experienced Canadian history from a First Nations perspective in a “blanket” exercise, and heard the stories of First Nations people (see below).
What might “Second Steps” look like?
Some good reading might help us to discern the way forward in a way that reflects the heart of God. Here are some suggestions:
- Compact, Contract, Covenant Aboriginal Treaty-Making in Canada, by J.R. Miller. This is a good place to start in understanding contact and treaties between First Nations and newcomers to this continent. Dr. Miller is a professor at the University of Saskatchewan. His book is largely descriptive rather than argumentative. It will give you a good overview of the facts of our history, and introduce you to Indigenous perspectives, alongside European/Canadian. The most important insight I received from this book was the knowledge of a vast chasm that exists between the two cultures in their understanding of what a treaty signified. For one, a treaty was a legal agreement. For the other, a way of making kin. Can you guess which perspective belongs to which side? I have this book and would be happy to lend it to anyone interested.
- Richard Twiss’ Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys, and Chief John Snow’s, These Mountains Are Our Sacred Places. If you are wondering what to make of Indigenous spirituality, and how Christians are to respond, these are two excellent books on the subject. I have the former; the latter is available through the public library. Both authors were proudly First Nations and proudly Christian. Their stories will tell you how they worked through the two identities, including First Nations spirituality, and will give you an understanding of and an appreciation for God at work among First Nations people.
- Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, edited by a young Mennonite Christian in Winnipeg, Steve Heinrich. Steve is the director of indigenous relations for the Mennonite Church Canada. This book is for you if you are game for some of the toughest questions facing Christians, and for facing the anger that is out there among hurting First Nations people. This is a collection of essays, some by Christians, some by writers quite angry with Christians, that challenged me, humbled me, made me weep, made me angry, and left me nearer, I think, to the heart of God.
“Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry is a necessarily painful book to read” – Herald Press
- A Quality of Light and Indian Horse. If you prefer fiction, consider these two novels by the late Richard Wagamese — they are excellent! They will take you into the world of First Nations people and touch your heart. His memoir, One Indian Life, is also well worth reading. All of these are available through the library.
Good reading, it is hoped, will serve a prophetic role, and prepare our hearts for action – Ron Phillips
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First Steps – Fall 2017
Cheryl Bear Concert at First Baptist Church, Regina, October 20, 2017.
First Steps Indigenous Weekend, 2017
One of the important issues facing Canada today has to do with Indigenous issues. These issues can often be polarizing and difficult, and sometimes increasingly so as we consider the role of the church in such issues.
Christian churches were asked to consider their role by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Much more than that, we answer to the Creator, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who calls us to reconciliation as a way of life.
The Canadian Baptists of Western Canada and Canadian Baptist Ministries are partnering with First Baptist Church Regina to offer three events to help foster education, conversation, understanding and healing.
Blanket Exercise, Friday evening – October 13
On Friday, October 13th, 7:00 pm, there will be a “Blanket Exercise”, an interactive teaching event that helps people understand Indigenous history in Canada.
Seminar, Saturday – October 14
On Saturday, October 14th, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, First Baptist will host a seminar where we will have various presenters and times for discussion, as we hear about themes like residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Friday Evening Concert – October 20
Friday night, October 20, 7:00 pm there will be a concert featuring Cheryl Bear (Facebook). Cheryl is an Indigenous leader from northern BC and an award-winning singer/songwriter. She will offer an evening of Stories and Songs. As an Indigenous Christian, Cheryl attempts to help churches understand Indigenous issues relating to faith.
There is no charge for the concert. We will be collecting donations for “She Matters”.
Please register online. Cost is $30 per person, or $50 per couple for Friday and Saturday. No cost for Saturday evening connect.. No one will be turned away. To register without paying immediately online, choose “pay by check” online.
Resources to Prepare Yourself
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC)
- YouTube reading of T&R report
- Highlights of Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Recommendations on Residential Schools (The Star)
- Read the 94 Calls to Action Here (APTN National News)
- Treaties, Reconciliation and Indigenous History in Canada (CBC)
- CBM Mosaic – From Recognition to Reconciliation, subscribe here
- MC Canada Provides Resource on Indigenous-Settler Reconciliation (Canadian Mennonite)
- Literacy to Support Truth and Reconciliation
- Reconciliation Canada
- Downloadable Publications
- Slide Show (don’t hit the “download” button!!)
- A collection of resources to support and incorporate Indigenous Education into the curriculum
- 11″ x 17″ Posters: Charting a Path for (re)Conciliation; Cheryl Bear Evening of Story and Song
- Atamiskākēwak Gathering 2018 — Putting the TRCC 94 Calls to Action into Action.