What do a Cree Elder, a theologian, and an ex-Moderator of the United Church of Canada all have in common? They are all Stan McKay, and he’s going to talk to us about what a covenant of reconciliation is, and why the earth needs to be part of it.
Why You Should Listen
To build strong relationships with each other and the earth we need to look at reconciliation holistically. This episode sheds light on TRC Call to Action 46 and highlights how we all live together on this earth, and how everyone has a place in society — regardless of faith or beliefs.
About Our Guest
The Very Reverend Stan McKay made history as the first Aboriginal person to lead the United Church of Canada, serving as moderator from 1992 to 1994, where he was instrumental in pioneering a new road towards reconciliation.
As a spiritual leader he consistently seeks ways to build bridges between Christian beliefs and Aboriginal teachings, believing there is more to unite than divide us.
McKay was born into an extended family on Fisher River Cree Nation, where he attended the Fisher River and Birtle Indian Residential Schools. He graduated from The University of Winnipeg’s Faculty of Theology (now The United Centre for Theological Studies) in 1971, and for several decades supported training for the ministry, which enabled Aboriginal peoples to study in their own language.
As co-director of the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Centre, he again created new pathways towards reconciliation by providing non-Aboriginal people with opportunities to learn about the culture of Aboriginal peoples. McKay received a 1997 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for his efforts in finding a balance that respects the best of Aboriginal and Christian teachings.
As a respected community Elder, McKay is still offering his guidance and wisdom, working on reconciliation issues full time. He is part of the Collaborative Leadership Initiative, which works to establish common ground between Indigenous and local government leaders in southern Manitoba, Canada.
On the meaning and true spirit of reconciliation
>> 02:47: I’m learning day by day, what reconciliation might mean. And I think it is about rediscovering relationships; starting over again. I don’t think there is a very good record in Canadian history of Indigenous Peoples having a real place in society or, in the minds of the majority population, that Indigenous Peoples would have anything to contribute. So I think reconciliation needs to be redefined and needs to be looked at again in our context, and that its historic uses may not really help us in our present situation. It’s more helpful for me to talk about revisiting the treaties and engaging as peoples with some level of respect.
On reconciliation in respect to the pandemic
>> 17:00: Those of us who are on the margins of society, the Indigenous community, we’re very vulnerable in this time. But the earth also is very vulnerable. We must ponder more holistically what reconciliation means.
>> 25:39: When we’re all vulnerable, when we’re in this all together, it’s really a wonderful opportunity to consider reconciliation between peoples and with all of creation. I think Indigenous spiritual leaders have been pointing us throughout our history. We must care for each other, but must also care for the earth. That’s how the fullness of life is maintained.
On institutional racism and the fractures in our relationships
>> 18:53: As I look at Call to Action 46, it’s clear that there are fundamental fractures in our relationships. Institutional racism—it’s everywhere. It’s in so many of the systems. It’s in the structure of the very governance of my village because of the history that has divided us. So I think we have a lot of work to do, but I’m encouraged because I see young families in the village here continuing to live in hopeful ways. I’ve just experienced many of the people in the village going out for commercial fishing, and the lake becomes a part of the life of the community. It enriches the community to have access to the water and [renewable] resources of the lake. In those small areas of opportunity, we find ways to discover our humanity. But as we move as communities within government programs, we are often led down roads of deep dependence, dependence on others for the [basic] needs of life. I think we can move beyond that.
In This Episode
- Collaborative Leadership Initiative
- TRC Call to Action 46 – Covenant of Reconciliation
- Treaty 4
- Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre
- Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement