Created by on 6/28/2016 5:07:43 AM
Cross cultural ministry in and out of the local church is challenging these days. It seems that we face so many barriers in our own backyards that it is often easier to go far away to practice following Jesus. However, our effectiveness globally may depend on our willingness to practise discipleship and overcome barriers much closer to home. With the proposal be- low I am challenging churches to address a local issue that has broad implications.
Aboriginal people in Canada are sometimes referred to as the most evangelised and least reached people. Their forced attendance at “Christian” residential schools contributed to widespread misunderstanding of the gospel and suspicion of Christians and churches by First Nations people. Although not all students at these schools were physically or sexually abused, the legacy of these institutions is seen as overwhelmingly negative and viewed as a stark example of what can happen when one culture uses power or privilege to force its values on another culture.
Even though most Christians alive today, and many denominations did not participate in the residential school program it is still an issue that needs to be sensitively addressed and understood by all of us before honest relationships can be built between indigenous and non-indigenous people. If Christians ac-
knowledge and address this issue they will be better equipped to live out their faith and will be blessed in their efforts to overcome barriers of suspicion and misunderstanding wherever those barriers exist. The proposal outlined below is an opportunity for churches to do something tangible on the road to healing and understanding.
Through various efforts initiated by The Journeys Class at Sardis Community Church the harmful effect of Aboriginal Residential Schools became apparent. A participant in the class, Isadore Charters, an Aboriginal artist and member of the Coqualeetza elders group shared his vision of carving a Residential School Healing Pole. With the encouragement of Don Klaassen, a church mission coach with Outreach Canada a yellow cedar pole was donated by a local business man and a way to transport it was designed. Various groups and churches are now being invited to participate in this project. This carving of the pole will be featured at Vancouver Missions Fest on January 27 – 29th 2012 and may also become a feature of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission events to be held in B.C in 2012 and 2013.
A 200 year old eight foot yellow cedar pole will be designed and carved by former residential school students or their family members. The carving design will draw attention to the impact residential schools had on the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal residents of B.C. and on the need for healing. The pole will be carved in various churches and public venues where non-Aboriginals will be invited to assist in the carving. Each person participating will be encouraged to take further steps along the path of healing and reconciliation. Upon completion the pole will be put on permanent display in a place accessible to the public.
- Carvers are encouraged on the path of healing and health through their participation in the project.
- Non-Aboriginal people become more aware of the impact residential schools had on those who attended and on their families
- Positive relationship are built between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) events to be held in B.C. in 2012/13 have tangible and lasting benefit.
- Christ followers will grow in their desire to live out their faith with authenticity, aware of the issues facing the First Nations people of our province.
“When I carve on this pole I let go of my anger and my hurt. The new me comes out because I know that people are trying to help and not just trying to forget”
Isadore Charters – an Aboriginal artist and member of the Coqualeetza Elders in the Chilliwack area.
“ The Residential School program was an expression of our cultural arrogance. As a result we have wounds of injustice embed- ded deep in our societ y. We need healing. Finally there is someone brave enough to say ‘let ’s do this together ’! Working together on this pole could increase our understanding of our cultural dif ferences and similarities.”
Darryl Klassen – Director of Aboriginal Neigh- bours Program within Mennonite Central Committee
“As a First Nations Christian I want to be an equal partner in walking the healing Jesus Walk with non-Aboriginal believers. The pro- cess of carving this pole together is more im- portant than the pole itself. Attitudes change and healing happens when we work together”
Brander McDonald – Indigenous Relations Co- ordinator for Mennonite Church B.C.