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'We are all on the same side here'

Churches unite for service of healing

Melita Kuburas
Brantford Expositor
Local News - Monday, June 26, 2006 @ 01:00

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

It was a special service for members of three congregations who gathered at Sydenham Street United Church on Sunday, to pray in a circle and listen to native drums and song.

The gathering was to recognize the 20th anniversary of the United Church of Canada's apology to its First nations members and congregations, acknowledging pain and damage caused by the church's failure to recognize and honour the spirituality of Native peoples.

Members of the Sydenham, New Credit and the Chapel of the Delaware churches said the apology has to be lived if it is to have any impact as a historical document.

Sitting in a circle is symbolic, said Doug Tindal, a member of Sydenham United. While whites and natives are often portrayed as being on opposite sides of a conflict, "it does not reflect our reality," he said. "We are all on the same side here."

First Nations Sunday has been held for the last 10 years but more people attended this year. Rev. Barry Pridham, of Sydenham United, said the land dispute in Caledonia has prompted a greater interest in fostering peace and good relations.

"People are interested, people do want healing," he said.

Twenty years ago, the church's apology was accepted by the native community on the condition that it reach out into action, not just words, said George Montour, a member of the Delaware United Church.

"I don't think it was skepticism, I think it showed wisdom on the part of the elders," he said.

A First Nations legend told by a little boy at the service stuck with Mardi Tindal, as it tells of two wolves inside a person; one peaceful and one unruly.

It's up to us to choose which one we want to nurture, she said.

"I think we all need to be able to sit down together and listen to each other. I want to hear all those things my ancestors didn't hear in the first place."

The annual service provides an opportunity to acknowledge the difficulties in sharing this land in a just way, Pridham said.

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