Feast for Friends

CCS’s Ann Naylor reflects on the “Feast for Friends” held at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre on September 22, 2012:

Children are playing – working together to create a structure from the wood in the carefully stacked woodpile, sharing ideas, negotiating, being stubborn, cooperating, joking, celebrating their accomplishment. Adults are sitting together in circles – sharing stories, reflections, and prayers – in a sweat lodge, around fires, in drumming and dancing circles. In the kitchen a feast is being prepared – a feast for friends, the menu carefully planned to include foods sacred to various clans and nations… pickerel, beef, corn, berries…

We have spent the day together at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, about 120 of us, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, learning about ourselves and one another, participating in:

  • a sunrise ceremony
  • a “blanket exercise” to learn about the impact of colonization on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples
  • small reflection circles
  • workshops on treaties, the Indian Act, colonization and Christianity
  • sharing circles
  • games and crafts
  • and, of course, sharing food.

We have gathered at the call of a group of planners, seekers connected to many communities and officially representing the All Native Circle Conference, the Conference of Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, the North End Community Ministry, and the Centre for Christian Studies. As planners/seekers we are Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people yearning for reconciliation from the broken relationships between our cultures, committed to finding ways to create and nurture partnerships, relationships marked by respect, honesty, justice, and compassion

We have gathered as people committed to uphold a fundamental connection amongst all peoples, all living beings, and with the earth itself, the kind of connection reflected in Anishinaabe prayers which end by affirming “all our relations”. We are taking small steps into deeper relationship. The adults are listening to one another cautiously, sharing stories, stumbling over assumptions, experiencing moments of understanding, bringing to the effort the awkwardness of our differences, the inevitable moments of awareness that we/you just don’t get it, but we keep on working to build trust. This is a sacred path we are travelling.

And the children are playing together, reaching across differences, risking relationship, creating anew. So it is in the vision of the prophet known as Isaiah. “…and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)