UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Photo by Samantha Rideout

Dancing at the Forks

The first Truth and Reconciliation event winds up with a spirited powwow, but much work remains to be done

By Samantha Rideout

On my way to the Forks in Winnipeg yesterday, I mentally prepared myself for heart-breaking stories of the kind that I had heard each day during the first national Truth and Reconciliation event. But instead I found a joyful powwow in celebration of National Aboriginal Day, which officially takes place on Monday, the longest day of the year.

After two days of rain and a tornado warning, calm weather had returned to the Forks. “The sun is watching us,” said the powwow announcer. “It’s a good sign amongst our people.”

For seven hours, drummers pounded and sang to accompany dancers dressed in beautiful regalia such as eagle feathers, beaded moccasins or jingle dresses, which are covered in aluminum cones that clink rhythmically each time the dancer takes a step.

Governor General Michaëlle Jean attended the powwow and said that everyone — whether directly affected or not — has a duty to break down indifference toward the suffering caused by colonialism and the residential schools. The Governor General’s words reminded me of a moment the previous day, when Elaine Jacobs, a member of the United Church’s Living into Right Relations task group, stood up and said, “Any non-Natives who are here, tell your brothers and sisters about our history.”

“And tell them there’s no need to envy what we have on our little reserves,” she added, referring to the resentment some non-Aboriginals feel toward the rights that First Nations people have under treaties. “The treaties were made under duress,” she said. “We gave up this beautiful country. In return, we asked for things like health and education, but what we got was epidemics and residential schools. Our education and health are still much poorer than that of others.”

Although the TRC event is over now, there’s still plenty of work to be done. A lot of painful memories have been brought to the surface, and the kind of support that will (or will not) be available to survivors when they return to their communities depends on where they live.

Before leaving, I visited the sacred fire and made an offering of tobacco. The fire was not extinguished at the end of the ceremonies. Instead, it was left to slowly and naturally burn itself out.


Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image