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My Day on the Walk for Common Ground

posted 20 Jun 2019, 10:40 by June Miller, MCA Communications
My Day on the Walk for Common Ground
by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld

The image on the Treaty 6 flag is striking: the crest shows a European and Indigenous leader engaged in a never-ending handshake, a longstanding and well-understood symbol of mutual agreement. The edge of the crest is lined with words that testify to the longevity of this agreement: “As long as the sun shines, and the rivers flow, and the grass grows.”

On this beautiful sunny day in 
June I ponder these words as I join the Walk for Common Ground for one leg of its journey. The dream of Indigenous leader, Dr. Patricia Makokis, the two-week walk from Edmonton to Calgary has brought together people from a variety of professions, faith communities, and Indigenous groups for conversations centred around what it means to be treaty people. The questions swirl as I learn more about agreements that go back more than a hundred years. How did these agreements shape the Canada in which we live, I wonder? What are the responsibilities--and benefits—that remain in force today? What are our different and often forgotten understandings? And where is there common ground to be found?

I spend some time in conversation with others as I walk beside the lush green fields along the road. I can’t help but marvel at the diversity of the group that is walking from Innisfail to Bowden that day. I also marvel at the diversity of opinion. Even among the Walk’s organizers, whether Indigenous or not, there are different perspectives of what actions will lead to a better relationship between Indigenous and Settler people. Yet here we are, walking together, united in the desire for something better. We all believe that a better relationship is possible. Most of those who respond from passing cars and pick-up trucks feel the same way, judging by the number of friendly waves and gestures of support.

II Corinthians 5 points out that in Christ, God is reconciling the world to himself. As Christ’s followers, we have been entrusted with this ministry of reconciliation. Perhaps the first step is seeking out places like this to enter the journey together.

Photo by Tim Wiebe-Neufeld