TRC Calls to Action and 1JustCity

By Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud
November 26, 2015

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

1JustCity is fortunate to have Cree Elder Rev. Connie Budd working with us at North End Stella Community Ministry. She supports and teaches us as we blunder and fail forward. I am privileged to have spent time with amazing Elders from First Nations Communities surrounding Winnipeg. I name in particular Grassy Narrows First Nation. I connected with Judy Da Silva through Christian Peacemaker Teams and began the path of engaging in First Nations issues as a settler (Check out www.cpt.org to join the next delegation).

As a network, 1JustCity seeks to strengthen and sustain social justice work in the City of Winnipeg. Crucial to this work is reconciliation. We are a Christian-rooted organization, and it is these roots that call us into relation with one another, “For you are all one in Christ” for we are all one in Christ. It is our call to seek social justice (Isaiah 1:17) “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.” Our church made mistakes and repented. We tried, failed, lamented, and we continue. In a process that is unclear, as Christians, we have two astounding gifts: We have faith and a role model. Jesus judged no one except the greedy. He welcomed all, especially the shunned. He broke divisions between us, took time alone to discern his next move, and stood steadfast against regimes that oppressed.

Through 1JustCity we respond to the needs of the under-loved in Winnipeg. We engage with over 500 people, half of whom are Indigenous. We run on donation and church support; 30,000 hours of volunteerism makes what we do possible. We respond to the Truth And Reconciliation’s calls for action in different ways, some limited and thoroughly:

14- We acknowledge the land we’re on before our meetings and invite leaders among us to pray in their Indigenous languages.

You can say for example “I would like to acknowledge as we gather that we are on Treaty __ Territory the traditional lands of ______ Nations and we honor that their stewardship of this land allows us to be here. We honor the relationships with this land past, present and future of the First Peoples and seek to live justly on this land with them.

18- We respond to the needs of First Nations individuals in our city with judgment, we judge our government and ourselves for being complicit in creating the life conditions that dismantled healthy families and communities to a point where unhealthiness is the norm. We educate ourselves and strive for continued discomfort with these oppressive systems (See more on this at http://redrisingmagazine.ca/faq-on-being-an-indigenous-ally/).

  1. We provide adequate food, social contact, support and love for those living isolated lives with mental health issues. As Churches, we opened our doors to do this work because we had the space. We heard the call to serve and this choice has been divinely supported. In the context of ever-rising poverty it is crucial to advocate, and to use our positions of privilege to help.
  2. For many who experienced Residential Schools in Canada there is an identity crisis. The Christianity they learnt didn’t recognize that we are all one in Christ. They were given a choice, choose to be First Nations or Christian, you can’t be both. For those seeking reconnection to their roots our Churches must create space to honour traditional teachings. During service on Sunday and throughout the week, we must learn how our connections to Creator mirror each other.
  3. When a Flower is wilting you change the environment, take away what is not serving it, give it enough nourishment. You do not blame the flower. We provide love and affirmation, capacity development, and pre-employment programming. This is Gods work, you are the hands.

43/45/48/59. We educate, through the KAIROS blanket exercise (do it with your church by downloading it (http://www.kairoscanada.org/what-we-do/indigenous-rights/blanket-exercise/). We share pieces of history that informed the creation of Canada, including those that need to be honoured, undone, updated, or reimagined. We are involved in and benefit from colonization. We are divided in the process of colonization; we need to be engaged in the process of decolonization.

  1. 1JustCity is a movement out of the United Church of Canada. Indigenous leadership asked that we apologize to Survivors and their communities for our role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit and Metis children in residential schools. And we did.
  2. We participate in sharing the important work of Aboriginal organizations in our city through our networks online, and in our pews.

We welcome you to learn more about us there too, or drop us a note so we can learn about you.

We can do this but we can only do it together.


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