So I was at home Thursday, trying to be sick, when I was awoken by a knock on my door. When I asked ‘who’s there’ I was greeted with ‘you weren’t expecting us, but are you Aboriginal? We are trying to reach out to Aboriginal families.’ Now, being the MC that I am, I looked at this as an invitation to go and engage with other people who are trying to do more of the same work that I do.
Reach Out. Build Resilience. Share Opportunities.
So I went outside, and had a conversation with these 2 women. They said that they were Jehovah Witnesses and were trying to reach out to Aboriginal communities in this area (North End). They shared some print material with me and tried to explain some of their ideology to me. The materials were awesomeness because they were translated into Swampy Cree and in syllabics. The woman was constantly referencing families from the North that she knew, and also spoke in a ‘we’ mentality. It was awesome because I assumed that she was Aboriginal as well which made me feel more comfortable. I explained to them that I work with young Aboriginal people from this community and we are committed to healing from our people’s previous interactions with those kinds of systems (residential school, CFS, Government shitiness etc.). She explained to me that the past histories of residential school were done by religious folk, but God didn’t tell them to do it. And because of those injustices, the JW community is reaching out to Aboriginal families for healing.
Appreciated and offended
I do appreciate the courage that it takes these folks to walk around in the hood and knock on people’s doors unannounced and preach (to Neechies) about residential school. I also commend them for being so solid and strong in their own spiritual beliefs that they would like to share it with other people. H O W E V E R, I was quite offended when I asked this woman which community she came from. She said she came from the ‘pacific island’ community referring to her Asian-Pacific ancestry.
At this point, I felt very deceived because throughout our entire interaction she kept saying ‘we’ and ‘our’ in referencing children and communities. I don’t appreciate that she is masquerading around the community, talking to Aboriginal families and they don’t even realize that she is NOT neechie herself. She deliberately ignored the question when I asked her at the beginning of our conversation, and out of respect for her comfort level, I left it alone until the end of the convo. I know that I felt very deceived and also offended at the fact that she would have the nerve to barge into places where we live and try to tell us about religion, knowing full well the devastation and evil present in the historical and colonial relationship between First Nations and the church. It just felt really dis-honest, ya know?
And so, I felt like I needed to be honest with these people with how I was feeling. I explained to the woman and her partner that I was very skeptical of the content of the materials she provided to me, and that my own personal experiences cause me to have quite a large dis-trust for Christian based religious ideologies, but I would read the materials with an open mind. Having responded in that way is preparing me for the next time I am in such a situation so I can confront them with more informed questions and really try to dig to understand what (in their mind) makes its ok to 'reach out' in such a fashion. Just seems really dis-respectful to me.MC