It’s time now for our sign to change. Not because the issue of culpability has gone away or because the weight of crimes at the Canadian Residential Schools and Indian Hospitals (yes that’s a whole other story) has diminished, but our sign needs to change to respect the work that we are committing to do as we move forward.
‘We are complicit' were the words I suggested to Rev. Dickey when we first heard about the discovery of the unmarked graves in Kamloops by the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and she added ‘What if we listened more?’ We didn’t want to simply add our prayers or express our horror. We wanted to speak a truth and to let that truth be seen in the neighbourhood.
'We are complicit' for me means that - as a descendent of a European settler family who has benefited and prospered for generations on the backs of the Indigenous peoples whom our forebears dispossessed of their traditional territories and forced into submission through horrific policies, prejudicial laws and punitive reprisals for non compliance - I bear responsibility. 'We are complicit' for me means that the rules I have been playing by have advantaged me every step of my journey while they disadvantage someone else. And my blindness to my privilege does not excuse my responsibility to acknowledge the harm it caused and continues to cause today.
We ARE complicit if we knowingly continue to support systems of injustice. So here we are, taking down these words which have been up for the past two months and replacing them with words that reflect our ongoing commitment to justice, reconciliation, learning about land back and much more, and committing to take responsibility for educating ourselves.
I hope that many will be called to learn together - and together provoke change that does not repeat the harm.
Communication & Neighbourhood Engagement
James Bay United Church