By Ruthe Murphy, Kathy Root Parr
In 2016, the formal apology given on behalf of our Canadian Baptist family stated, “Today we commit ourselves to journeying on a new path.” With the recent confirmation of 215 children found in unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC, we are being given one more opportunity to listen to Indigenous People and understand the systematic, unyielding attempts to harm and marginalize them ever since the arrival of non-indigenous people on Turtle Island (North America).
So, how can we journey on a new path? Since the fall of 2018, we have felt called to hold a conference in Southwestern Ontario to follow the series of Indigenous conferences sponsored by CBOQ which began in 2014 and held in Mississauga, Thunder Bay, Kitchener, Peterborough and most recently virtually from Kanata. Our planning committee felt strongly that God was leading us to focus on listening to the Indigenous People around us and for the agenda, in terms of content, to be set by the speakers themselves.
Much of the indigenous response from Kamloops has included statements like “Now do you believe us? We told you before.” In this spirit, it is essential that we not to drive the agenda but listen with our minds and our hearts to what indigenous people are telling us.
We are asking our presenters, “What do we, as non-indigenous people, need to hear and understand to better walk ‘in a good way’ with the Indigenous Nations where we live?”
The Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action were released over 6 years ago, but much action still needs to happen. We must continue to hear, understand, and accept the truth about our history before there can be reconciliation.
It is imperative we listen to Indigenous People, be available to develop meaningful relationships, and stop participating in the ongoing racism and discrimination by being silent.
Now is the time to listen and understand so that we can act and learn to walk in a good way with Indigenous people as we move forward together. This event is planned for the spring of 2022, in London.