Humbling experiences ...

It has been a challenging week.  I have heard stories that should never be heard.  Not because they shouldn't be told but because they should never have happened.  How can I, as a Christian, look the First Nation residential school survivor in the eye and not say I am so sorry?  How can I, as a Christian, not fall to my knees asking forgiveness of those who have been so wronged over generations? How can I, as a Christian, not seek to know what I can do to make things better for the Indigenous Peoples of this country?

This week I witnessed the two, of four courses here at Vancouver School of Theology at the 28th annual Native Ministries Consortium (NMC) where peoples from all over North America, including Hawaii, are gathered.  Time for story telling and witness to the challenges faced in the past by First Nation's peoples.  In the work I will be doing in Bella Coola B.C., I am challenged to better understand how, as a white person, I can be effective clergy and pastoral care giver.

It is through relationships with these people I am learning so much.

One term that was raised by Dr. Martin Brokenleg during our class, Aboriginal Youth Issues Today was Intergenerational or transgenerational trauma.  This is defined as a cumulative emotional, psychological, social spiritual wounding.  It occurs over the life span while bridging across generations and is the result of a massive group trauma.  This is what the youth of the First Nation's people are living with.  This trauma manifests itself in many ways such as addiction, abuse, domestic violence resulting in jail time.  The Native Canadian people are struggling with identity and unresolved grief.  But here at the NMC I see hope because I hear many people telling their story and reaching out to heal and, in turn, learning how to re-engage with life.  I see hope and life here in this place and I see how I can help those struggling in the Bella Coola community.  I am embracing all of this learning and will take it home with me. There may be mountains to climb, but I know the sun will come out tomorrow and I can find common ground with this work.  Bless all residential school survivors and may I sit and listen to each and every story.  I pray for those who cannot find a voice to tell their story and I am humbled by those who can speak their own truth.  

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