About thirty of us filled the community room at the Edmonton Native Healing Centre on July 6, 2017 for this event created as a collaboration between Interfaith Housing Initiative and End Poverty Edmonton.
Guests for the event came from a host of different faith backgrounds including Jewish, Quaker, Catholic, Anglican, Christian Reformed, Methodist, Unitarian, United, Presbyterian, Eastern Orthodox, Zoroastrian, Hindu, and three leaders from Muslim communities.
Elder Francis Whiskeyjack welcomed us with a smudge and some words of wisdom. Then a pair from Kairos led us through the blanket exercise, intended to help us experience North American from an indigenous perspective. We stood together and watched the land disappear from beneath our feet, and our people gradually lost or separated from us. It was very powerful and very moving; full of grief and loss.
Following that experience, Francis Whiskeyjack led us into a talking circle where we had the opportunity to respond to what we heard together. Expressions of shock and grief were mingled with those of compassion and hope. By the end of our conversation, numerous suggestions had been made to help us in our continuing walk together on Turtle Island. Some of these were recorded as words of wisdom by the group on cards and sheets highlighting the need to listen and understand; to treat each other with love, dignity and respect. To be humble and appreciative of the perspectives and abilities of others.
Other ideas we had were to make opportunities like this available in the languages of newcomer communities. We thought this might help them understand some of the history in their new home, and help them consider how they too can join our walk together in this place.