Saturday, June 20 is World Refugee Day and Sunday June 21st is National Aboriginal Day. It’s interesting that these two “days” fall on the same weekend – a day honouring the first people to come to this land and a day honouring some of the last to come – refugees. It’s a day (and week) for looking back and looking ahead.
Ever wonder what past generations were thinking? You know – the slave trade, Holocaust and the like. Watch out for geographic and chronological snobbery, for our own country and generation is burdened and branded by similarly shameful scars.
- Residential Schools – From 1831 to 1996 a Government of Canada program administered by various Christian denominations removed 150,000 Aboriginal children from their homes and placed them in boarding schools where their languages and cultures were forbidden and European ones imposed. Abuse was rampant.
- The 60’s Scoop – Starting in the 1960’s and continuing into the late 80’s about 20,000 Canadian aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their people and exported to the United States and Western Europe for adoption.
The Truth and Reconciliation Report published this month records the trauma and recommends 94 action steps. Numbers 58-61 particularly calls on us as churches so we can wisely move toward the future.
We Baptists can’t say, “But it wasn’t us,” for we Christians are one family and we live in a democracy – our politicians, policies and programs are indeed ours. And ours also is the God whose heart is broken over all the broken hearts and homes of all the broken people, the first people, who welcomed us to this land.
On this National Aboriginal Day read some of the report (http://www.justice.gov.za/trc/report/), stop, be silent, be sorry, and share what you’ve learned with an aboriginal person… and with a refugee.
Refugees too have been persecuted for their faith, ethnicity and culture. Nearly 60 million people have been forcibly displaced from their regions*. 16 million are outside their countries. 4 million of these are Syrians. God is moving the CABC to welcome 50 refugee families from Syria and Iraq (both Christians and Muslims). Get on board! https://baptist-atlantic.ca/refugees.
50 families out of 4 million people is miniscule. But what an opportunity to welcome people as we were welcomed, to repent of fear, pride and cruelty and to live out the hospitality of God in our nation and world!
“Remember you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenant of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now you who were once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:12-13