Council has instructed that the following statement acknowledging the traditional lands on which our church stands is to be printed in the bulletin beginning at Easter: “We acknowledge that we gather for worship on the traditional territory of Neutral, Anishinaabe, and Haudenosaunee people.”
Peter Mogk offers the following to help us understand why it is good for us to do this:
We are privileged to live in a country that is daring to open the pages of history to name the truth in the full light of day. We are doing this because in some way we recognize that Jesus spoke words of life, when he is reported to have said, “The truth will make you free.”
We all want, in different ways and for different reasons, to be free. Yet we also know that the “victor” writes the story one way and selectively. So we are living in an uncomfortable time that is beginning to acknowledge that we can think and act in more wholesome truthful ways than in the past.
This is the beginning of a process that is somewhat familiar to church people; it is called reconciliation.
Yet we also know that people sometimes vote with their feet to continue in their own perception of reality rather than pause together to become the people that God leads from one enslavement toward a place of promise.
It is painful to hear the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada affirm that our history reveals the presence of “cultural genocide” with our Indigenous hosts. We have not been taught to think of them as host people, who have lived on these lands for thousands of years. Even when archaeological evidence confirms this truth, we are inclined to prefer old ways of thinking that said we can take the land of people who are not like us and people who are not like us can be treated in ways that we never would wish for ourselves.
So we are entering into a time of trying to encourage and nurture new relationships. One small step on this journey begins by acknowledging that this land was occupied by different people over many, many years before we arrived here. This means that history can be opened to greater truthfulness and not simply presented as a selected version of what has happened since we and our ancestors arrived here.
So acknowledging the territory is a small significant act that people of hope can do in the search for more wholesome relationships with brothers and sisters also created in the image of God. – Peter Mogk
For more information about Truth and Reconciliation inititives in our community, check out the bulletin board in the narthex as you enter the church for community lectures, gatherings, and more.