|Christian Solidarity Walk,|
Mato Paha 2006
As a Christian, my religious rituals do not relate to my ancestors. But I do make an effort to honour my ancestors; I work for justice towards Aboriginal North Americans on my behalf and theirs.
My great-great-great uncle, William Spragge, signed the Manitoulin Island Treaty on behalf of the Crown. I don't know his actual attitude towards the First Nations he negotiated with, whether he truly wished to make the encounter between two cultures as just and fair as he could, or whether he mainly wished to move Aboriginals and their cultures out of the way of European settlement. In a sense, it does not matter very much. The Europeans who first encountered First Nations people shared the difficult task of reconciling two very different cultures with very different views of the world, and I believe in evaluating even their worst failures with compassion.
But whatever my ancestors did or failed to do right in the centuries that preceded this one, their actions form part of an ongoing relationship. I can choose to honour the best things my ancestors did by doing everything I can to foster a just relationship between the Aboriginal and Non-aboriginal people of this continent. If enough of us do so, in the end I believe history will see even the worst mistakes of our ancestors as slips at the rocky beginning of a positive relationship. If we and the generations that follow us fail, then all that our ancestors did, the good and the bad, will blend into a history of genocide, of the destruction of a people. I do this work, I strive to steer our relationships in a positive direction, because I have the honour of my ancestors in my keeping.