Our collective shock at the recent grim discovery of 215 children’s bodies at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., means one thing: that we didn’t listen. Indigenous people have been trying to tell Canadians for years about residential school system tragedies; to our shame, we have not really heard or understood….
As I write this article, all the headlines on Canada’s news websites are dominated by COVID-19, rapidly dropping oil prices and the possibility of the economy opening up again. You could be forgiven for assuming that everything to do with the dispute a few kilometres down the Morice West Forest Service Road in northern B.C. must be done and settled. After all, if media coverage has moved on, everything must be okay now, right?
When students at Bulkley Valley Christian School (BVCS) in Smithers, B.C. learned about the history of discrimination against Indigenous people in their town, it didn’t take them long to move from shock to action.
ON JANUARY 7, the RCMP arrested 14 Wet’suwet’en protestors and took down a barricade blocking access to Unist’ot’en camp on the Wedzin Kwah (or, to use its more recent colonial misname, the Morice River), about 130 km south of Smithers, B.C. Images of the arrests, made after a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to allow construction of the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline, created a sense of unease for many Canadians.
“Watch your step,” we were told by our soft-spoken guide.
And then a second time as we drew in close to see what he was referring to: “Watch where you step – this is a mass grave; you cannot step here.”
Smithers, B.C., was just in the news for two very different reasons: ranked in the top five mountain towns in the province, and host of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The latter is not on any tourism brochures, but it’s not something to ignore either.
Don’t watch Koneline to simply pass the time one summer’s evening when you tire of CBC coverage of Canada’s 150th. Nor should you watch it to find easy answers to complicated questions of creation care, stewardship, and justice. There simply are none.
This present age between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ is where we experience the ‘already/not yet of the Kingdom of God.
Despite this dark litany of themes present in the book, this is a book about hope and reconciliation – words that reflect so much of what we believe and hold onto as Christians, but have so often failed to live by or put into practice.