The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017 - 21

sTorIes oF PeaCemakers
to school, so then there's nothing good about education in his
mind to encourage him to send the next generation to school.
this is today. these are third graders who stopped going
to school, and their parents have no reason to tell them to go
because education is still a healing journey for Indigenous
people in canada. It is not a means of betterment like it is for
so much of the rest of the world. It's just how do we get back
to baseline? how can I see education as a positive thing?
BPFNA: Can you talk more about the Truth and reconciliation hearings in Vancouver?
JS: there were national events in seven communities and there
were smaller community hearings. they tried to get into as
many communities as possible so more stories could be collected from Residential School survivors. As the commission went
on, there were an increasing number of non-Indigenous voices,
both in terms of presence at the hearings and participating by
telling their own stories.
this is one of the criticisms of Indigenous people of the
process is that yes there is value in telling their stories but they
also want to know "Where were you?" Did you know this was
happening and what did you think about it?
I heard very powerful testimonies from Residential School
officers whose jobs it was to go get kids who ran away from
school and bring them back. And for them to be able to say
"This is what I understood at that point in time, here's my
current understanding, and here's what I'm committed to do
as a result."
It was also important to them to hear stories from teachers.
Nuns were really the only teachers willing to tell their stories;
none of the brothers or priests told their stories, or even very
many other teachers, but nuns are the ones who said most
loudly and most fiercely "I participated in this." That's a big
deal, to look at your whole life's calling and say "My calling
was in the service of something evil." that doesn't make what
they did evil necessarily, piece by piece, but it's really important
to say, "What I participated in was no good."
the violence of removing children from their homes and
abusing children-using that as the tactic to conquer people-is insidious and so gross and ugly. And it's couched in the
language of faith. We are going to Christianize, we are going
to kill the Indian in the child and save the man. All couched
in salvation language. the church was the hand of the state
in carrying that out.
BPFNA: how did this become your passion?
JS: I was part of planting a church in the inner city of vancouver. We thought it would be a multicultural church, but
when we started, it was Indigenous people who came, and they
invited their friends. For me, moving into a mostly Indigenous
community, my experience has been totally altered. I'm in
the exact same city, ten blocks from where I've lived before,

but I'm walking with different people and having completely
different experiences.
So very rapidly we became a church of 75 who were all
Indigenous and I had no idea what I was doing. But I had a
strong enough sense of contextualized gospel to say, "How do
we do this well?"
this was happening on the one hand, and, at the same
time, the truth and Reconciliation process was starting in
canada. I was invited by my Baptist denomination to sit at
a table that was half First Nations-survivors of Residential
Schools, and actually the original five who brought the Truth
and Reconciliation process forward.

"It's my experience of pastoring a church
that, for so many people, it doesn't
matter what label the church had that
ran the school, the reality is that people
who look like me came in the name of
Jesus and did horrible things."
they were convinced that, for real reconciliation, for real
healing and justice to occur, people of faith needed to be a part
of that conversation. they see this work as spiritual work. So
they invited denominational leaders to sit with them. We sat
together for three hours once a month for five years in preparation for the vancouver truth and Reconciliation work. It
was a really powerful experience.
Both of those were huge learning curves of total immersion
into a different worldview and understanding the history and
perspective and implications on the lives of people. those two
things came together and then the truth and Reconciliation commission ended. We had final recommendations going forward.
then chief Bobby joseph, who was one of the survivors,
asked me personally, "Would you help people who pray continue to be a part of this conversation? As we've come through
the truth and Reconciliation process, it seems that the general
culture is opening up to this conversation, but people of faith
don't know their role and their place, and if people who pray
aren't there, then we can't actually get to that spiritual healing
that we need."
So he said "Jodi, would you do this?" and I've learned
that, when an Elder asks you to do something, you say "Yes"
and try your very best.
there was another invitation that was really important
for me. I was talking with some colleagues from the united
Church and the Anglican Church and they were saying, "Why
Please see "Confessing Our Sin" on page 22

Baptist Peacemaker

Oct-Dec 2017 21



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Journal of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America October-December 2017

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http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/38-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-4
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/37-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-3
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-2
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/36-1
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/35-4
http://www.brightcopy.net/allen/peacemaker/35-3
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/35-2
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/35-1
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-4
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-3
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-2
http://www.nxtbook.com/allen/peacemaker/34-1
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com