Aboriginal and Christian
by Stan McKay
Moderator of the United Church of Canada
a Cree from Fisher River, Manitoba
I appreciated the morning prayer which contained the words, "God calls us to be whole." It has focussed right on the issue which is central to this gathering: being aboriginal and Christian.
Our cultures are diverse and unique. Within the global context for the last 20 years, people within the church have been saying it is good to recognize African and other different cultures as special.
The resolve of the church not to acknowledge the cultures of my own people in this land has continued to be painful. I, too, am a survivor of five years in a residential school. I, too, have been an object of mission. I have dealt throughout my 22-year ministry with a deep anger. When the explorers came and asked: "What is this place?" the people responded, "This is Canada," meaning sacred place, holy ground.
Our ancestors knew about theological concepts. We had some trouble understanding shepherds and sheep and salt water, living as we did in the muskeg, but they knew about theological concepts.
How could another culture see us as pagans and as poor children? Our ancestors had a sense of the sacredness of all life. We have know God long before the missionaries came. We are FIRST NATIONS PEOPLE. We have gifts to share with the wider church. We are KEEPERS OF THE EARTH.
How do we deal with what happened to us? Some say forgive. What about those whose lives are still affected by the cycles of destruction? Let us acknowledge what has happened and find new ways of relating to one another, acknowledging the sacredness of all life and our connectedness to the earth and all creation.
This is not only about healing for ourselves, it is for the whole of society. I believe the will of God if for all people to live with wholeness and dignity.