Each day we are confronted with news about the trucker convoy. Each day we are asked to believe their rhetoric about the curtailing of rights and freedoms while excusing the symbols of hate, the coopting of the trauma of residential school survivors and their families with Every Child Matters flags on vehicles, the disrespectful appropriation of the smudging ceremony with a smudge stick in one hand and a beer in the other.
Meanwhile, we are told that the police are impeded by the rights of protesters, hampered by the justifications of lawyers for the blocking of roadways, the restriction of rights of access for citizens and the lack of arrests in favour of ticketing for infractions, and no movement to dismantle blockades (as has been done in every other instance in Canada in the past).
Our society is on the brink of a kairos moment that will define us for a generation. Will we continue to make excuses and exceptions when white grievances are put on the table? Or will we find the resolve to uphold our higher ideals of science, community safety during a pandemic, and support for our institutions of healing and medicine?
As we wait to see how this will play out in the daily scrum of reporters vying for perspectives, we miss the institutional responsibilities of government; we miss the liability and partisanship of individual parties; we miss the double standard emerging that is emboldening right-wing hate groups and their supporters.
We live in a system that excuses accountability and covers over its racist acts with claims of helplessness and fragility when it comes to certain populations. This is not an isolated problem, it is occurring from Ottawa to the Alberta border and is growing in major cities across the country and now worldwide.
As a denomination, The United Church of Canada has committed itself to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and to becoming an anti-racist denomination. The United Church has positioned itself as an advocate for anti-racism and reconciliation, which includes the dismantling of the institutions of racism: namely, white supremacy and white privilege.
In our work this includes:
• Upholding the work of reconciliation through the TRC Calls to Action;
• Dismantling racism and its structures;
• Speaking out against hate speech, acts of hate
• Calling for accountability of law enforcement, governments and institutions to address systemic issues
• Working toward the common good for all citizens, including our most vulnerable
As we continue the work of ministry through our social justice programs, let us be mindful of this moment and what it is calling us to do for our fellow citizens and the world we want to live in.
Tony Snow is Indigenous MInister for Chinook Winds Region and a member of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.