April 12, 2016
(Camilo Freedman/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images)
Today I did something I haven't done since childhood. I attended church. I had met the 'preacher' at a LGBT Pride event last year when the church opened their doors to us. The church is a United Church. Anyway, the topic was First Nations & reconciliation. It was very surreal sitting in a room full of majority non-native people. I could go my entire life in segregated systems that are entirely of my own people. So this was very different for me. I sat there waiting for the service to take a sharp turn and spiral into the devil, sin, and damnation. I was waiting for them to try to high jack my soul for Jesus. I had my guard up and I was on high alert. But this did not happen. All the First Nations churches I grew up attending were like this and even the on-reserve funereal services I've attended are like this. Most churches seem to be against our ways and our people. This was very different. They were very welcoming and open. They began with a prayer to the four directions. They spoke about the issues. They spoke about solutions. It was done very respectfully and heartfelt. I appreciated that. Growing up I heard the Elders say not to make fun of or hate on other people's religions. This is just not our way. I can see where others have lost their ways and now through history - only have hate for these churches. That is your own personal journey you must take in this life. Our culture is who I am and on that foundation I lay everything else upon. I know who I am. This church was not trying to take that away from me. I am grateful for that. So from a child, never hearing anything but contempt for our ways from the church, to coming full circle as an adult feeling very much hope from the church. We do not have to be a part of their spirituality to offer our love to them. Today reminded me that reconciliation works both ways. Today I think, quietly, healed that little Indian boy who attended churches that told him he was wrong. I may never go back again. But I left feeling that maybe one of these people here will actually go out with a changed perspective. I thought maybe one of these people will take action. At the end of the day, I am still very much First Nations and accept our ways as who I will always be. I am not saying 'go to church!' I am not saying abandon our culture. What I am saying is there is hope to find through love. Maybe reconciliation is at it's core about the simplest yet most hardest emotion - love.