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The Release

By Belinda
On Saturday morning we gathered again; those of us honoured to be in the middle of this profoundly important moment in our nation's history. A huge step of healing had taken place the night before, as church leaders knelt in repentance before aboriginal leaders. I carried a note book with me, scratching away in the dark--inadequate words--my limited attempt to capture thoughts and impressions that I felt so incapable of expressing. I wrote:

As a direct result of what happened last night, a healing took place in hearts. Bondage to the past was broken. Forgiveness was extended to the Church of Canada, symbolically and fully; from the heart.

An elder métis spoke these words in response to the repentance of the Church leaders the night before:
"I saw a genuine heart exposed. There has been deep, deep, hurt. Some of us couldn't understand why our parents would send us to day and residential schools, but they took the Church as the ultimate authority--Mother stopped speaking the Michif language."

He went on, "While there was bad, God also worked good. The gospel was heard, but at a terrible cost. The Church of Canada released us from anger, resentments and judgments as a result of last night."

And he shared this scripture:
Psalm 130:3-4 (New International Version)
3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness;

I felt as though I was on Holy ground as weeping and wailing spontaneously broke out throughout the auditorium--the cries of a people releasing, and being released from, grief. It was noisy and unscheduled. There was no urgency to fit this into a strictly planned timeframe. They had come to this place to do business with God and man, and, as Chief Kenny Blacksmith said on Friday night, "We don't know exactly what is going to happen and everything is subject to change." There was a freedom in stepping into a culture that is not in bondage to the hands of the clock, and in simply allowing things to unfold as God would have them unfold.

This beautiful psalm was read when the Freedom Journey was launched in Vancouver earlier this year. How appropriate it seems for this people's journey of freedom:
Psalm 126 (New International Version)

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.
Twenty four elders; survivors of residential schools; and twelve young people; children of survivors, signed the Charter of Forgiveness and Freedom, to be presented to the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada, on Saturday afternoon.

Chief Kenny Blacksmith reminded people that, "Forgiveness is personal and individual, but we have made the decision to come together to spur one another on to good things."

"This is your healing; your freedom,' he said, "We hope and pray for those that aren't ready, to be ready,"  reminding us that the release was not from the memory of the past, but from its pain and the sting.
To be continued...


Susan said…
Belinda,I am deeply moved. Beyond any words. I am grateful that you were there, and that you have brought this back to us. As one who has swum upstream sometimes, with perhaps a fuller understanding than the average person, and a deep sense of grief for a people abused and neglected, I am grateful beyond words to hear of what happened in Ottawa last weekend. My prayers, and the prayers of many for the aboriginal people of Canada, and most of all their own prayers have not gone unheard or unanswered.

I have always had a sense that the healing of Canada's aboriginal people could not come from us - it was not something we could do FOR them, but it was something THEY had to do - in response to a loving Father who would lead them. But the immensity of the pain and hurt they carried was way, way beyond any comprehension or possiblity of healing except by some great, impossibly great, miracle. This is that miracle. That a representative number of people would stand up and forgive us -forgive our forefathers, forgive us, and forgive our nation from grave injustice and tyranny - and thereby release themselves from the prison of bitterness and resentment - oh, my... It truly is beyond words. I am in awe of a God who can do ANYTHING... move ANY mountain... realease ANY PEOPLE and any PERSON from their pain. No, this doesn't wipe out the past. Not at all! But it opens up the future. It opens it WIDE! There now is hope where hope was lost. There is now possiblility where there was no possibility at all.

I feel that we have to pray with new purpose, with new hope and with new joy, for our brothers and sisters who are, by their own resolve and acceptance of the ways of the Creator of all, coming out of captivity - and we must support them as never before.

What a great season in the history of our nation.
Marilyn Yocum said…
How encouraging and hopeful for all of us everywhere!

And this: "..noisy and urgency...had come to this place to do business with God and man...don't know exactly what is going to happen and everything is subject to change...a freedom in stepping into a culture that is not in bondage to the hands of the clock..." holy ground indeed.


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