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Working Together for Reconciliation

Earlier this year, Shaughnessy Heights United Church began “Reconciliation Matters”, an initiative that we hope may be of interest to other congregations. We are willing to share our resources and experiences and to learn from others.

“Reconciliation Matters” aims to continue the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation event in Vancouver and the Reconciliation Canada Walks in September 2013.

As the United Church of Canada’s Comprehensive Review Task Force (2015) states: “The church place a high priority on building relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people based on mutuality, respect, and equity, and that the church continue to live out its apologies to Aboriginal people.”

On March 30-31, 2016, the United Church of Canada participated in an ecumenical community action to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation. Learn more here.

SHUC Outreach introduced Phase I of “Reconciliation Matters” in May 2015 with a sermon and “second hour” talk by Rev. Alf Dumont, currently elder in residence and advisor at BCIT. His topic was Aboriginal “Medicine Wheel” teachings and included a residential school film followed by discussion.

Opportunities were outlined for the congregation to gain a better understanding of past and recent histories, develop appreciation of what “reconciliation” means – to see, hear and feel and then reflect upon building right relationships. Our librarian put together a First Nations book display in a special area in our library and hall.

To assist the congregation in recording their experiences, two journals were developed – one for adults and one for children. Suggestions for what to reflect upon were included in the journals and children were encouraged to record this in drawings, words or photos.

Opportunities for learning included:

  • Visiting “cesna?em, the city before the city” in all three participating museums
  • Attending the SHUC picnic and tour of Musqueam in June
  • Visiting the Bill Reid Gallery and attending public talks by Beau Dick who tells stories about the masks and First Nations peoples
  • Attending the Firehall production “God and the Indian”
  • Vancouver Public Library Aboriginal Story Teller in Residence, Sharon Shorty, public events
  • Young people’s volunteer summer church camp activities in Hazelton and Gizegukla
  • October 2015 – Rev. Ray Aldred, Director, Vancouver School of Theology Indigenous Studies Centre, was the guest preacher

Further plans include:

  • October 2015 – Bill Reid Gallery exhibit opens – “Gwaii Haanas: Land Sea People
  • November 2015 – view “Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World” – to be premiered on Knowledge Network – acclaimed at VIFF 2015
  • December 2015 – Rev Alf Dumont, guest preacher
  • January 2016 – “Stickboy”, a production of Vancouver Opera in the School
  • May 7, 2016 – Blanket Exercise and Witness Feast.

Phase II of “Reconciliation Matters”

The Blanket Exercise and Witness Feast is an all-ages experience.

What is the Blanket Exercise? This is a learning experience to deepen understanding of historic and contemporary relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in British Columbia and Canada.

What is the Witness Feast? This is a potluck dinner where, as members of the SHUC community, we will share food, stories and experiences with one another and members of the First Nations Community. We will hear reflections on reconciliation from First Nations guests.

What is asked of each of us?

  • Sign up to participate, bring a small blanket and doll if you can.
  • Sign up for the Feast and indicate what dish you will bring.
  • Reflect on what “reconciliation” means to you.

Romans 15:7 “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

All Are Welcome…Please Come! For more information, contact: Heather or Pamela

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