An evangelical seminary in Saskatoon is contributing to the national conversation, reports Meagan Gillmore
Horizon College and Seminary in Saskatoon wants to help further the reconciliation conversation in Canada. The school has posted several videos about the topic, including discussions with school president Jeromey Martini and two Indigenous alumni, brothers Andrew and Jimmy Thunder.
The initiative was prompted by increased awareness about hundreds of unmarked graves at former Indigenous residential school sites across Canada.
Martini said he felt tremendous "social and political pressure to make a statement" about the graves, but wasn’t sure making a statement would be helpful. Instead, he turned to the Thunder brothers, members of the Sachigo Lake First Nation, both of whom work closely with Indigenous communities.
Andrew, a former pastor, works with reconciliation projects in the business community. Jimmy founded Reconciliation Thunder, a not-for-profit that educates businesses, governments and community leaders about how to pursue reconciliation.
"I want them to show us the way" to pursue reconciliation, says Martini.
The videos, all available on a dedicated portion of Horizon’s website (www.Horizon.edu/215Children), discuss important aspects of Indigenous history in Canada, including treaties, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its 94 Calls to Action.
The team wanted to create a resource for people beginning to learn about Indigenous history and residential schools.
Discussions about reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples need to "become an automatic part of the thought process for future Christian leaders," says Martini. Andrew spoke at the school for Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Jimmy teaches the school’s mandatory course on Indigenous ministry.
The Thunder brothers and Martini want to focus on the solutions to racism and racial inequality, and that all people are made in God’s image. A lot of discussions about racism are "hopeless" and focus on what’s wrong with social institutions, says Martini. Emphasizing solutions makes the conversations constructive and encourages hope, he says.
All Christians need to take reconciliation seriously, especially because of how churches were involved in residential schools, says Andrew. The Church’s response to the need for racial reconciliation is "really going to influence how the Church and how Christianity is perceived. It should be seen as a time for us to reflect on how can we display Christ’s love in this situation." –MEAGAN GILLMORE