Number 16

Take time to listen

Canada has conscientiously gained a worldwide reputation as a donor country to a variety of humanitarian and beneficial causes. Private enterprises like nongovernmental organizations, churches and charities, as well as government institutions, steadily strive to make a difference in a variety of acute human crises that demand action around the world.

As long as the rivers flow

One repeated theme at the conference was an abysmal lack in the regulatory system. Would a slowdown or moratorium be in order while nature is given a chance to ‘catch its breath’?

A map of the Alberta oil sands.

When Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta asked Adrienne Wiebe and me to attend the May 31-June 1 conference on the Alberta oil sands and treaty rights in Fort McMurray, it was with mixed feelings.

Ears to earth, eyes to God

The land at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in downtown Winnipeg was too important as an inter-tribal meeting and trading place to be held by any one people, says Clarence Nepinak, a learning tour leader at Native Assembly 2014. (Photo by Moses Falco)

Steve Heinrichs, director of indigenous relations for Mennonite Church Canada, leads in singing during one of Native Assembly 2014’s worship services. (Photo by Evelyn Rempel Petkau)

In the Blanket Exercise, quilts covering the floor are Turtle Island—aka North America. The blankets are folded and removed to represent the insidious ways that land and control were taken from Indigenous Peoples through colonialism. Participants are crowded into smaller and smaller areas, or sent back to their seats to represent those who died from disease or imposed malnutrition. (Photo by Moses Falco)

An early morning fire and smudging ceremony started each day of Native Assembly 2014 that met from July 28 to 31 at the edge of the Assiniboine Forest on the Canadian Mennonite University campus.

In another skin

Brander—Strongraven/Standing Bear—McDonald shares insights into the indige-nous worldview at Native Assembly 2014.(Photo: Moses Falco)

Brander McDonald is soft-spoken. He moves about the room with quiet dignity, avoiding eye contact while he presents a workshop exploring indigenous worldviews at Native Assembly 2014. He admits to being a shy youngster, but there is more to his demeanour than being reserved. “My grandmother taught me that I shouldn’t look someone in the eye when I first meet them,” he says.

Searching for harmony

Vince Solomon’s dorm door was marked with an “X” to indicate his race when he was enrolled in religious studies. (Photo: Moses Falco)

There’s an imbalance here. Of the 250-ish gathered for Native Assembly 2014, indigenous participants are overwhelmingly outnumbered by non-native folks.

A few months ago, planners were concerned that not enough white church folks would attend. But this turnabout troubles me. Dominant people can often become dominant voices. So I’m trying to listen more and say less.

Finding ways to share this land of plenty

The judges’ bench in the main courtroom of the Supreme Court of Canada.(Photo by Philippe Landreville / © the Supreme Court of Canada)

Indigenous issues are charged, complex and unappealing to many Canadians. Understandably so.

Competing histories and intricate legalities combine with strong sentiments to create a sort of national quagmire. No one feels comfortable about the situation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, but meaningful change often seems impossible.

Men retreat to explore manhood from an Anabaptist perspective

Scott Brubaker-Zehr, left, Clayton Kuepfer, David Armes, Geoff Wichert and Hidden Acres staff person Patrick Singh discover at a June retreat at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp near New Hamburg, Ont., that doing their own dishes is part of male spirituality.

Aged 18 to 71, 20 men gathered at Hidden Acres Mennonite Camp from June 20 to 21 to explore what it means to be a Mennonite man in the 21st century. “Under construction: Reframing men’s spirituality” featured Gareth Brandt from the biblical/theological studies faculty at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B. C.

Don’t hail Caesar

Fortunately for the humans, the apes are led by Caesar (pictured), who has many fond memories of humans.

The big blockbuster of the summer is the critically acclaimed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It is set in the near future, in which an epidemic—created by the same retrovirus that made apes as intelligent as humans—has wiped out most of the world’s human population.

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