Anti-Racism and Indigenous Connections
On Friday, April 12 the twelve students in the Social Ministry learning circle went out to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre near Beasejour, Manitoba for a day of reflection on race, privilege, advocacy, and right relations. They were accompanied on the journey by an equal number of Aboriginal people, who were gracious enough to offer their leadership and wisdom. One student described an exercise in which CCS students in small groups wrestled with their white privilege while Aboriginal participants in each group acted as observers. It was moving and challenging for all.
CCS student Jim Hatt writes about the day:
Friday was a rewarding day. We travelled to Beausejour, Manitoba to the Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre for the day. The guest speakers were husband and wife, Harley and Sue Eagle, who did a workshop with us on racism. Sue is a Russian Mennonite and Harley is a Dakota Indigenous man. They have two daughters, 11 and 13.
(As an aside, Sue was born in Leamington and so was I, just 40 years apart. She lived with her family on the 5th concession where they raised strawberries. What a small world!)
Stan McKay, former United Church moderator, served as elder for the day. He did a smudge to start the day.
We explored the evidence that any racial group does not have identifiable DNA. Thus we are all the same. Race is a man made decree of how we are different. We also watched the movie, Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes where children were told they were superior because their eyes were blue and vice versa. It did not take kids long to catch on to being superior. What a message! Doesn’t take any of us long to catch on, does it? We, who are white, are privileged. One more time it came home to us.
Several other exercises were carried out. It was a good day with good food and was closed in offering prayer to the great Creator of us all.
As a CCS student-participant, for me the most rewarding part of that day was the circle itself: a “grace-ful” mix of white folks, aboriginal people and Metis; elders, clergy and lay; women and men; gay and straight and in between. Sometimes we were painfully aware of our differences, but mostly those differences seemed suspended in the Creator’s grace. The experience of this day and these people was a blessing – and a challenge to be a blessing ourselves.
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