Editor’s note: Perhaps more true to say,
“When you see more clearly, you start noticing people that you never knew you needed.”
Have you ever been to an event, a party maybe, and it seems no one notices you? It seems people just look past you? It’s not exactly a warm and welcoming feeling. We may not be the kind of personality who wants to grab the mic and break into a karaoke song or clear the dance floor with a jitterbug, but it’s nice to be seen. It’s friendlier to be welcomed at the door with a big hug.
Whether in California or Vancouver, those who are homeless reliably report that the most demoralizing thing is not being unemployed or needing to beg. That’s painful enough. But the most degrading thing is to be ignored by hundreds of people scurrying past on the sidewalk.
At some level, we want to be seen. We want to know, somehow, that it matters we’re on earth a while.
That’s one reason we’re doing the mapping exercise at St. Andrew’s Wesley. It’s a way of seeing where we all were born or first moved to Canada. Today, only 5% of the Canadian population is indigenous; but in 1600, 99% were. For us all, the world has changed enormously in 400 years. But everything has changed for the Indigenous peoples of this country.
It’s so important for us to take the time to notice because it is so easy for us to look past, not remember, not know, not see. In this month that celebrates the rich and diverse cultures of the Indigenous peoples, we’re taking a moment to look and see, to remember and notice who our neighbours are.
I look forward to seeing your dot on the map and hearing the names of your neighbours.
And the lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”
Seeing Our Indigenous Neighbours Mapping Exercise
- Métis National Council www.metisnation.ca
- Métis Nation British Columbia www.mnbc.ca
- Métis – Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100014427/1346434788986
We do this in the spirit of learning and reconciliation and with the hope that we will be able to “see” our neighbours more clearly. We remember how former Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo’s grandmother sat in Parliament in 2008 witnessing the apology to Indian Residential School survivors, and said “Grandson, they’re just starting to see us, they’re just beginning to see us.” Shawn Atleo described how his grandmother found this encouraging, “because it’s the first step, actually seeing one another, having the silence broken and the stories starting to be told…I think that’s where it begins isn’t it?” – Shawn Atleo