Come Into The Circle: Comment By Maureen Stark

Dear Readers,
I urge you to read, delight and share widely, a comment made on one of my blog posts by Maureen Stark. Her words are profound and truly from the heart and mind of a human being who appreciates what it is to be sensible in matters touching the human rights of an oppressed minority in her community.
God bless her for her spirit and courage,
South Wind
Comment by Maureen Stark on 17 June 2017

There has been quite a bit of discussion on this over the last 7 years. (Especially since the death of Grandfather William Commanda.) Today is a good day to act.

Usually the old nuggets of ‘not everyone agrees, not everyone opposes’ is pulled out to create the blatantly self-righteous cover for not entering into a deeper awareness and understanding of what is being requested and what is still being done locally to suppress Indigenous spirituality. The local political status quo has not changed at all when it comes to the local historical spiritual/religious abuse. It is still standing.

Most people, average Canadians, through personal lives that are too crowded with normal day to day obligations are collectively predisposed to continue to turn a politely blind eye to colonial religious privilege happening in our own city.

This is an unavoidable consequence we are all dealing with from the willfully created ignorance that was imposed on all of us by our historically racial legal and cultural social economic systems.

This ignorance is a fact that is not easy for us to look at, or to change. But, it is a fact and it is real and especially pernicious here in Ottawa.

Are we so afraid of simply being willing to say, we recognize and hold seriously our ability and responsibility to support the Algonquin right to restoration and recovery from 500 years of spiritual abuse.

Can we not say we recognize that Indigenous spiritual expression is indivisibly expressed through ceremonies which center on learning from and respecting the traditional rights of all life forms, land, air and water based.

Algonquin people have suffered locally due to the failures of interfaith compassion, interfaith respect. This is unceded territory. There is no agreement no treaty or legal status that has been surrendered by the Algonquin or the Mohawk for that matter. I can connect you with historians on this.

The right to practice Indigenous spirituality, here, where it was always practiced, which is THE inconvenient point to politicians and commercial lobbyists, in a location that is currently dormant from industrial use, is a real clash of rights..

People, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous alike who don’t care about restoring the historical traditional Indigenous Spirituality here don’t care about that clash.

The Indigenous spiritual relationship to the planet is not a concept that is shared by or contained in, our political system or monetary system.

Treating life, any life whether water or land or wind based as a commodity, is inhuman to Indigenous spirituality. That is why this is so hard. The potential for healing or harm is global.

Can we not at least say that we are willing to walk with and come into the circle with the Algonquin spiritual leaders about their spiritual rights?

By the way all are unanimous in their identification of the Chaudière and its Islands as the one most important historical site of peacebuilding ceremonies in this city.

We, and all faith leaders are being asked to support them in the restoration of their right to practice their spirituality in their traditional ways, according to their spiritual customs, which to them means particularly in this currently undeveloped traditional location?

Not all Christians, Jews. Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists agree on everything within their own communities.

I hope that doesn’t mean that we feel our own faith allows us to just sit idly by and allow that to be our excuse for silence in the face of this need for restoration support by this spiritual community.

There is a continuing and historically sophisticated policy of oppression preventing Algonquins who want to practice their spirituality in this traditional location.

If un-challenged legal interpretation systems will be permitted to dismiss the importance of practicing traditional ceremonies, in traditional locations simply because we, and most Canadians, don’t really understand what is being asked and offered.

I think we all know that our own faith often asks us to take a leap.

For me, my faith is saying I need to walk with the Algonquin Spiritual Grandmothers and Elders to discover what their faith is asking of us.

I’m simply inviting my ‘Church’ to do the same.

Thanks to the Elders and Grandmothers for asking.

Maureen Stark
Chair, Right Relations Committee
Ottawa Presbytery
United Church of Canada

Faith Is Peace June 23 Invitation-Poster


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