On Sunday July 10, we, as a parish, had an opportunity to meet Evan Stewart. He is the son of parishioner Cathy Stewart and grew up here, in the Valley. His career has taken him to the west coast where he works in the forestry industry.
Evan shared a lot of what he has learned and it is clear that his learning has brought him heartfelt concerns for how governments and indigenous nations have understood treaties and negotiation processes.
Evan repeated the words “this is not my story.” Evan was clear that mutual respect, atonement and reconciliation must be in the forefront of resource management; that stewardship and First Nations’ rights must be upheld; that we need to take the time to understand the culture and history of the indigenous peoples and to move forward making safe spaces and mapping knowledge for less one-sided agreements.
Evan says “we have the pen, and we get it wrong.” The power dynamic must change. First Nations have lost trust. There is misunderstanding and the feeling that negotiations are disingenuous. The history of soul-crushing colonisation must be acknowledged. The history of the affect colonisation has had upon the many nations must be understood.
There is trauma in the lives of the peoples we need to work toward understanding and make atonement. The Nations have ancient history and cultural knowledge. Learning about these can help in building for the future.
In a clear manner, we heard how a government clerk meeting a chief to negotiate land use is demeaning.
We learned that in discussions, all should speak, and, at the end, to correct any errors or misunderstanding and to draw things together, the chief speaks with honour.
Colonisers are used to holding the power and have imposed poverty on Indigenous Peoples for generations. The land the Peoples dwell upon have resources, but have not had equitable access to profit from these natural resources. The United Nations have a statement about corporatised running of these industries, which need to be implemented.
In conclusion, the St. John’s Reconciliation Committee Working Group is at learning stage.
Some final words from Evan were:
* Be aware of the authors
* There are layers of complexity
* Trauma is there
* It is time to listen.