A couple of weeks ago the Baptist tribe of Atlantic Canada met in Moncton for its annual gathering. I was skeptical about an item on the agenda that indicated a time for Indigenous peoples from Canada to welcome new Canadians (Syrian refugees). I was worried it would be contrived, or feel forced, as we try to squeeze together our newly-recovered sense of justice as Bible people, welcoming refugees and reconciling with indigenous communities post-TRC.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. As the Syrian families came on stage, theologian and indigenous leader Dr. Terry LeBlanc faced them and led a welcome with Dr. Danny Zacharias and Dr. Cheryl Bear. His words were beautiful, and conjured an image of a big land, stewarded for the Creator, with space for all who seek refuge and desire to live in peace with the land and others. He offered a gift in exchange for the gift of their presence in the land, and all were welcomed.

The picture here captured the powerful beauty of a moment that all will remember as a moving declaration of what it means to love in the name of Christ. It was a moment of hope. It was clear in that moment that the welcome was for us as settlers too, if we are willing to live by the same conditions.

In a world of cynicism about the future, and skepticism about faith, it was a wonderful reminder that good things happen at the grassroots in Canada. Good things are done by Christian people. Ambassadors of reconciliation are still about the mission of their Creator, and their Christ. It offers hope for all.

Image Credit: Troy Wilson Natural Canada Photo (@ CBAC Oasis 2017)

Comments 2

Lois Mitchell
September 11, 2017

I agree – this was a great moment and the photo is amazing. We should be careful though, about just appreciating the photo for what it shows – a moment in time – because taking the time to really meditate on this photo could be truly transformative for each of us as we consider not only the moment captured by the camera, but what this moment might mean in terms of historical and future relationships of each individual on the platform (and the people they represent). The heart of this photo is Terry’s interaction with the children. The welcome to the family has been made and I suppose it was time to move off the stage to make way for the next item on a full agenda. But Terry takes the time to kneel to the level of the youngest child – he SEES her and honours her. He welcomes her. In light of the history of Residential Schools, I am humbled by the profound irony in this gesture. The path forward will not be easy but let’s lean into the opportunities for genuine hospitality that this photo embodies.

Anna Robbins
September 11, 2017

Important words and thoughts, Lois. Thank you.

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