Happy National Indigenous Peoples Day! It’s a day for all Canadians to celebrate the rich cultures and diversity of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. We’re dedicated to learning about the unique history, languages, and experiences of these Indigenous cultures, and encourage you to do the same.
In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day we wanted to compile all of our resources, videos, writings, and assets in one easy place for you. We hope you’ll use these materials in your own education, reflection, and work to decolonize yourself and ways of thinking.
At First United, we honour that we do our work on the unceded ancestral homelands of the Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh), Xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), & Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) peoples. We’re committed to reconciliation in action. It was just last year that mass unmarked graves of children were discovered at residential schools across Canada, forcing the country to stop and acknowledge the dark history that Canada and the church had inflicted on Indigenous children. There is still so much work that needs to be done and a big part of that is education and truth-listening.
Part of our commitment to reconciliation is decolonization – including decolonizing the Bible and decolonizing the church. Last year, our Director of Community Ministry Dr. Cheryl Bear, and Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain Lauren Sanders hosted discussions on Indigenous theology. If you haven’t seen them yet, we hope you can take some time to listen and learn. We hope this series will show different perspectives and bring light to ways that the Bible has been historically used to oppress different cultural groups by being presented with colonized interpretations.
“Decolonization is not scary. It feels to me like telling the truth… hearing a different story and changing your mind about it.” – Dr. Cheryl Bear
We’ve also compiled some other resources below that may be helpful in the journey toward learning and reconciliation:
Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne (Heiltsuk First Nation) Executive Director (on sabbatical); Dr. Cheryl Bear (Nadleh Whut’en First Nation) Director of Community Ministry; and Lauren Sanders (Prairie Band Potawatomi and Kickapoo Nation of Kansas) Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain, wrote an op-ed published in The Tyee, titled Truth and Reconciliation, A Living History.
“As Indigenous people, we need all Canadians to witness and participate in the work of deconstructing the myth of ‘dead history’ and engage with truth and reconciliation as a living history. All Canadians must listen to the truth-telling of residential school survivors and accept that the trauma of residential schools is ongoing and continues to impact Indigenous communities.”
We also shared a list of Indigenous Reading books recommended by Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse in last year’s blog post Truth Telling Requires Listening, as well as some titles in a social media post we shared on National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. These are great books for those wanting to learn more about Indigenous cultures and reconciliation.
Back in April, while on sabbatical, Executive Director the Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne shared a response to the Pope’s apology to residential school survivors. The apology was long overdue but was just the first step.
“The apology needs to not just be about the actions of the priests, nuns, and other staff of Catholic residential schools, but for the systemic design and generational legacies of the school as a tool of colonization, oppression and cultural genocide. Then the apology needs to be backed up with tangible amends, like making whole on the financial reparations and release of all the archival documents set out in the Settlement Agreements.”
Read the rest of the Response to the Pope’s Apology to Residential School Survivors.
Last year, on Red Dress Day, Dr. Cheryl Bear, Director of Community Ministry, and Lauren Sanders, Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain, led a memorial service to honour and grieve missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit (MMIWG2S).
For this year’s Red Dress Day, Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain Lauren Sanders led a meditative art practice. You can view the video below: