Images from Oppression and Resistance 2024

Images from Oppression and Resistance 2024

From April 18-24, six Diaconal Ministry students dug deep into social justice issues, exploring racism, classism, colonialism, sexism and homophobia, etc., but also exploring the many ways that people resist and stand up against oppression – movements of anti-racism, economic justice, decolonization, gender justice, etc.

Because most of the students had been together for Ages and Stages the previous week, the community-building session dispensed with the regular “get-to-know-each-other” activities and instead threw the participants into a locked room and invited them to work together to solve the puzzles necessary to escape. (The room wasn’t actually locked, and the students worked together remarkably well, drawing on their different strengths to escape the room in record time… The previous record being set by the CCS staff at, well, not escaping.)

In a session on classism and economic justice, students unpacked the familiar lines in the Lord’s Prayer about daily bread and forgiving debts, trying to take those words not as spiritual metaphors but as social realities. A session on anti-racism invited us into difficult but important conversations, as if around the dinner table. A trip to the “Beyond the Beat” exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights allowed us to reflect on the ways that music is a tool of resistance and a catalyst for change. A student-led session on Decolonization used the history of horses in North America as a lens for thinking about how the forces of colonialism affect all our relations, human and non-human. A student-led session on Sexism, Homophobia, and Gender Justice got us working on liturgy pieces to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. (May 17th. Watch for student-created resources showing up on the CCS website to help you celebrate this day in worship.) A board game (On the Road With Migrants) helped us to empathize with the struggles of refugees and immigrants, and inspired us to think of resistance tools that could be used to dismantle the barriers that impact migrants. In a session on militarism and peacemaking, students noted the extent to which military metaphors infiltrate our everyday language, and explored acts of resistance that seek to minimize the emotional distance between people that can lead to dehumanization and violence.

Ann Naylor was with us as chaplain for the circle, providing wisdom and support.

And though the topics were heavy, the circle was not without some whimsy. Students somehow got ahold of a bunch of teeny tiny toy ducks which they surreptitiously hid around the building. How many ducks? We don’t know yet. Hundreds? We are still finding them, on shelves, in pockets, tucked into various nooks and crannies.

In our closing session, students took to the street, practicing worship as an act of resistance in a public space. As they prepared to leave the circle, students thought about their unique gifts for justice-seeker.