Niverville Community Fellowship is hoping to educate its community about the ties between Indigenous and Christian beliefs by hosting a Truth and Reconciliation Ceremony.
September 30 is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, many organizations, businesses and individuals are hosting events and inviting the public to join in on the attempts of creating reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
Niverville Community Fellowship is hosting an event of it's own, with an emphasis attempt at intertwining the Church with Indigenous beliefs.
"We feel that treatments and reconciliation should be a concern of the church and we need to have a voice to speak into those issues," says the main event organizer, Minister Roger Armbruster. "So, we feel this is a great opportunity for the church to have a voice and to speak into the areas of reconciliation because really reconciliation is foundational to everything. If we can't get along with people that are different from us, well then we can't even really properly deal with the economic and social and environmental issues that our nations faces. I think this connection, by coming to understand the role of the First Nations in our society, sort of gives the Church a voice where we can bring in the spiritual component into the whole area of reconciliation."
Armbruster continues to say that the public response is unknown as this is a new territory of conversation for most community people.
"We're taking new territory here and not everybody understands it, but we believe that what you know is true of both pre-settlement and post-settlement people in our area that they all believed in the one creator God. Somehow because of denominationalism or different things we haven't really got to know each other that well, but I think that when we really get to know each other better, there's a lot of things in native culture that we can learn from."
Indigenous culture has a deep sense of understanding that all things given to them on Earth are a gift from the Creator, and that they were given the task of taking care of everything they have access to. Armbruster makes the connection with this aspect of Indigenous culture and the aspect in Christianity that replicates this belief, believing it to be the starting point for the conversation to happen.
"God our Creator wants us to share and to be generous and to be giving and not to be selfish or greedy. So, those are things that are there in the native culture and I think in the church we can learn from that and I think we need to have these sort of conversations to get to know each other better."
Niverville's Community Truth and Reconciliation Ceremony will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Niverville Community Fellowship. The event will begin with a video from Elijah Harper who spoke at the Sacred Assembly back in 1995 and the response from back-then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.
After the opening video, there will be speeches from guest speakers. Peter YellowQuill, who is a fifth-generation descendent of Chief YellowQuill who was a signatory of Treaty No. 1, will give the welcoming speech. His speech will be followed up by a Peguis First Nation pastor, Glen Cochrane and his wife Verla.
"They have a tremendous story to tell about their experience, and they're also bringing the legacy of Chief Peguis who, you know, he was a Christian and he also was the first one to welcome the settlers, and he stood true to the Selkirk settlers to all their reverses. He was a true peacemaker, so we're going to learn a little bit about his legacy."
To bring the ceremony to a close, there will be a song and a sharing from Howard Jolly, who is with the Rising Above Ministries, which is a Niverville-born organization that tackles the issues of residential schools and their effects head-on.
A light lunch will be provided to participants after the ceremony has concluded.
"It's a ceremony where we want to educate people to things that we have in common between Mennonites, between First Nations, between maybe people, they were all the spiritual people they all believed in one Creator, and I think that's the starting ground to build upon, to get to know each other. We also believe that the Creator is generous and that He everything we have is a gift from Him and that He gave it to us to reflect His generosity in ways that we share and that we distribute to the needs of the poor and those vulnerable among us."
The event will be held in person, however, there is a link to the online stream that will also be available.