“Our land gave us our language,” said Dr. Marianne Ignace, Secwepemc language and culture scholar at Simon Fraser University, to more than 100 participants in the Mindfulness and Indigenous Law event on Oct. 22, 2022, at the Sorrento Centre.
“Our law professors are the animals, the birds, the plants and the trees, the winds, the sun, the waves and the fire,” Dr. John Borrows, Canada’s pre-eminent Indigenous legal scholar at University of Victoria, shared on this important day. Indigenous people point to the land and take guidance from the land, he said.
The Sorrento Centre hosted the event on Indigenous language, culture and spirituality and the relationship and engagement between people and the non-people world in collaboration with the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and Victoria Multifaith Society. The day included presentations from experts in a formal seminar setting, as well as time to gather on the land with elders and knowledge keepers for drumming, story-telling and ceremony.
In 2019, Anglican Church of Canada Primate Fred Hiltz apologized for the spiritual arrogance that settler Christians have demonstrated towards the First Peoples of this land: “I confess our sin in failing to acknowledge that as First Peoples living here for thousands of years, you had a spiritual relationship with the Creator and with the Land. We did not care enough to learn how your spirituality has always infused your governance, social structures and family life.”
The Sorrento Centre event was an important opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders and others to come together to listen, to learn and to grow in our journey of reconciliation. Some of the truths that were told were strong and direct. Kukpi7 Wayne Christian spoke of his 40 years of fighting a system of “legislated genocide” that was (and is) the Indian Act, along with other federal and provincial statutes and practices.
“Truth comes before reconciliation,” said Kukpi7 Wayne, as he itemized the cruel impact of residential schools, the Sixties’ scoop, the Doctrine of Discovery and other colonial practices not only on his life, and the lives of his family, but of all Indigenous people.
The Sorrento Centre, as diaconal ministry, seeks to live into values of reconciliation. In 2019, we were welcomed into the global Community of the Cross of Nails – centred at Coventry Cathedral. The more than 200 groups that are part of the world-wide community face into difficult challenges that are as diverse as the geography of the world. We make a common three-part commitment: To heal the wounds of history, to celebrate difference and diversity, and to build a culture of justice, love and peace.
The October 22nd event was a time for truth-telling, truth-listening and healing. It was also a time to celebrate Indigenous language, culture and spirituality. And, though engagement, a time to continue the process of building a culture of justice, love and peace.
Stay tuned as we post more video and audio reports from a powerful, challenging and ultimately very important day.