It's the middle of the night after our Aboriginal Celebration and I can't sleep. I know it's partly because I've been so wound up over the past days of preparations that I feel like a sprung coil. It's also because my legs are sore from standing, and my body is punishing me for not having been fed and watered enough through a long day.
But the main source of my sleeplessness is the thought of my children being taking away from me. Our beautiful daughter Jadyn is in the room next to me as our son Jackson sleeps downstairs. Ringing in my head are words spoken today by story pole carver Isadore Charter, forced into an Indian Residential School at the age of six. He asked us, "Can you imagine, someone coming and taking a six-year-old child from his parents?"
Honestly, I can't even imagine the confusion and loss, anger and hatred felt by such parents and children (and there were, and are, so many). However, what I do see and know of this injustice is enough to keep me up at night. Delbert Guerin, a local Musquaem Elder, also shared today how the unity of his people was destroyed by the systematic division of lands into reservations, and how political and cultural forces continue to propagate patterns of colonization.
I can only hope that today's event, held under rainy "liquid sunshine" (as Delbert put it good-naturedly) provided some counterweight to an injustice that still weighs heavily on all of us. My prayer is that our Aboriginal friends will remember feeling honoured and lifted up as the First Peoples of this land, its caretakers for centuries. And I hope that the non-Aboriginal people there saw the beauty, life and sacredness of Aboriginal culture and ceremony.
As I reflect further, still awake, these thoughts lead me to a question: Why do we need Aboriginal celebrations? Why a designated National Aboriginal Day this June 21? Simply put, they were here first. Really, this should be a land and a culture filled with the sights, songs, languages and ceremonies of its First Peoples. Those who came after them should have their designated days to recognize the richness and beauty of settler heritage (Scottish being mine).
Can you imagine a nation where respect and honour were paid where due, and where everyone was embraced for who they are and what they bring? I think Jesus painted this picture when he spoke of the Kingdom of God. And it's one we'll continue to seek as we nurture our friendships with Aboriginal people and plan future events to celebrate them.