Below is my response to yesterday’s filibuster attempts by certain Conservative Senators to undermine due process for Indigenous Rights Bill C-262 in the Senate
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Christians have a foundational story that, for thousands of years, has fashioned our social ethic towards vigorous compassion and social engagement in solidarity with marginalized and oppressed peoples.
Our ancient scriptures tell of an Egyptian King, or Pharaoh (hereafter referred to as “the Crown”), who cruelly kept (Hebrew) peoples in a state of misery and enslavement against all pleas for liberty to pursue their own flourishing according to their own wisdom teachings and faith commitments. God, scriptures tell, heard the cries and misery of the oppressed people and sent a liberator to confront the Crown about its refusal (mainly for economic reasons) to lift its heavy hand. However, the Crown cunningly played a cat and mouse game and engaged in trickery to keep the Hebrews subjugated until it found itself in full confrontation with the God of creation. The story doesn’t end well for the Crown.
You can read the full story in Exodus 1-14.
Christians have another formational story that wisdom would have us remember:
There was an ancient King named Ahab who had designs for the property of a man named Naboth. Ahab was a Hebrew king and would have grown up with the story of the Exodus mentioned above. Therefore, he knew better than to simply procure his desires through raw Pharaonic power. Ahab’s wife Jezebel, however, was a Phoenician princess with no such memory of a God who aligns with the tyrannized. At first, the Crown offered Naboth compensation in exchange for the land. But Naboth responded with a somewhat Indigenous-sounding refusal: “God forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” Consider here the similitude of Naboth’s response to the Crown with Ojibwe Chief Minavavana’s response to the English Crown in 1760:
“Englishman… These lakes, these woods and mountains, were left to us by our ancestors. They are our inheritance: and we will part with them to none.”
Ahab, the story recalls, became sullen and angry, and retired to his chamber to sulk. Jezebel, however, shamed Ahab and insisted he simply power-up and take what her worldview saw as the right of the Crown. She then manufactured a campaign of misinformation to discredit Naboth, which resulted in Naboth’s death by stoning, after which the Crown took possession of the land. As one might imagine, the same God who heard the cries and misery of the oppressed in the Exodus story, rose up to confront the Crown in the Naboth/Ahab story, and it didn’t end well for the Crown.
You can read the story of Naboth’s vineyard in 1 Kings 21: 1-16.
Those who are moderately informed about the history of Canada’s relationship with First Nations peoples should hear echoes here of an ancient wisdom tradition that would warn us against robbing Indigenous Peoples of their inheritance and future through state machinations. Indeed, Canada’s official motto embedded on her coat of arms, From Sea to Sea, is taken from the same wisdom tradition (Psalm 72) as the two stories recalled above. The language of the psalm clearly implies that the same God who heard the misery of the oppressed in Pharaoh’s Egypt, and who avenged the blood of the murdered and dispossessed Naboth, is the One who will have dominion from sea to sea.
Let them hear who have ears to hear.
Pass Indigenous Rights Bill C-262.
Steve Bell / Winnipeg / May 29
#passbillc262 #UNDRIP #SenCa #ReconciliACTION #cdnpoli