A Justice CrossRoads - #IndigenousChildrenMatter

David Ruis, Jun 27, 2021, 4:04 PM
David Ruis National Director
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All across our nation, Vineyard Canada communities have been recalibrating our compass again towards the "righteousness - justice - of the kingdom of heaven," especially as more and more of the brutal truth of Residential School story comes to light. We need to clarify that Indigenous Peoples have been telling us about this iniquity for decades but we have been deaf, blind and dumb. So be aware of the import of the continued revealing of the atrocities inflicted upon our First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples and the re-traumatization that it causes. We need to be circumspect as we navigate social media, engage in liturgical response, respond with action and seek to be educated and learn.

The exposing of the cover-up regarding the horror of the Residential School System serves as a lens through which we all face the depth of our sin. The soil on which Canada was established is not as firm as many of us thought. This is a critical first step for anyone who has perpetrated harm and there is no recovery or restoration without this acknowledgement.  We have built this Canadian House on sinking sand - land desecrated by expansionism, colonial privilege and inhumane greed. This is not a quick fix scenario or something that will be healed with a revival campaign. Even though the 2015 TRC Calls to Action were published and circulated, the response of our Canadian society, and much of the church over the last six years, has not yielded much fruit or true systemic change. It's taken a wake up call like this current moment to stir conversation and awaken us to action. We as a family are committing ourselves to be a part of this journey of reconciliation. The long path. The good way.

"From the least to the greatest,

    all are greedy for gain;

prophets and priests alike,

    all practice deceit.

They dress the wound of my people

    as though it were not serious.

'Peace, peace,' they say,

    when there is no peace.

Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?

    No, they have no shame at all;

    they do not even know how to blush.

So they will fall among the fallen;

    they will be brought down when I punish them,"

says the Lord.

This is what the Lord says:

"Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

Jeremiah 6:13-16

This will require us to hold the space of prayer, intercession, lament and repentance in tandem with the posture, action and intentional engagement in the work of justice.

We know that prayer alone will never suffice - we must engage, for faith without works is lifeless - however intercession is key. For us in the Vineyard, the place of intercession is not one of declaration and proclamations. Our boldness is expressed through a radical plunge into the place of humility, repentance and the age old prayer of the followers of Jesus, "Lord have mercy."

Intercessory prayer is spiritual defiance of what is in the way of what God has promised. Intercession visualizes an alternative future to the one apparently fated by the momentum of current forces. Prayer infuses the air of a time yet to be into the suffocating atmosphere of the present.

"History belongs to the intercessors who believe the future into being. If this is so, then intercession, far from being an escape to action, is a means of focusing for action and of creating action. By means of our intercession we veritably cast fire upon the earth and trumpet the future into being.  Even a small number of people, firmly committed to the new inevitability on which they have fixed their imaginations, can decisively affect the shape the future takes.

These shapers of the future are the intercessors, who call out of the future the longed-for new present."

Walter Wink

From this posture of humility, here are some things that we can do. Our national initiative Engage has been, and will continue to be, guiding us to resources for learning and action.

For those of us who are not of the First Nation, Mètis and Inuit Peoples, exercise humility. Hold our tongues, reactions and defence, so that we may listen well. Learn. Lean.

Those of us who are of the First Nation, Mètis and Inuit Peoples - it is your time to stand. To have your voice heard. Tell your story. Lead us on. Our people of the Indigenous Community as well as other voices from across the land are being invited to guide us in this time. The Foundations Team will be walking with several Indigenous Elders in particular over the next while that they may lead the way.

Here are some things you can do, and some resources that you can utilize, to help you stay the course.

Please share these resources widely.

1. There are stories that are being told, but are we listening? Find various ways to expose people to the perspectives and voices of Residential School survivors. A helpful place to go is https://legacyofhope.ca/wherearethechildren/stories/. These are first hand accounts taken from "Our Stories ... Our Strength" video collection. Please be aware that the subject matter should be vetted for age appropriate usage as well as to be sensitive that it may be traumatizing for Ingidenous People. Keep checking in at Vineyard Canada Engage https://engage.vineyard.ca as well for more information and resourcing.

2. There are Indigenous Artists who are giving voice in a way that we need to hear right now. One person that we deeply respect and appreciate is Cheryl Bear. Cheryl was a keynote presenter with us at our National Celebration in Kitchener, ON in 2014. She has written a stirring piece entitled, "

" which can be used in various settings.

3. In your communities take the time to familiarize yourselves with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC report). You may be surprised how many people are even unaware of this initiative in our nation. Find a place to start in responding. There are many calls to action that you can engage in. Become knowledgeable about Indgenous Ministries. This may be a good time to support some of those that are on the front lines of serving with our Indigenous peoples, both Native and Non-Native.

4. One of the most powerful things that we have utilized over the years in various settings at local, regional and national levels, has been "The Blanket Exercise". This instructional tool can be found at https://www.kairoscanada.org. Check out this website for all kinds of good stuff regarding walking towards healing and justice with Indigenous peoples as well as some great material for educating your community about justice.

5. Take the time to connect with your local Friendship Centres and Native Band Councils. Become aware of those around you and look for tangible ways that you can support in both financial and human resourcing.

6. This is an incredibly vulnerable time for those who are of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities right now. Be aware. Hold your tongue. Walk together. For those of you who are Indigenous, if you are experiencing trauma, reach out. Let the community know how to support you and care for you at this time. If you need further assistance contact the Health Canada 24-Hour National Survivors Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.

Be watching for further updates and resources. Again, we are in this for the long haul. Step by step.