Anti-racism

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March 21, 2019

In this blog post for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Sara Stratton writes that it is a tremendous act of presumption and privilege to assume that we are “all the same inside.”

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March 14, 2019

“Your English is so good!” she said politely as I sought to explain the nature of the transaction I would like to undertake. I couldn’t help but respond, “Well I am from a British colony.” I have never been assessed by the quality of my English before but I guess there is a first time for everything.

What would have given this friendly woman the idea that I was unlikely to speak English well? I shudder to think that she looked at me and, from my physical appearance, had some expectations — but when I was different from what she expected she was impressed. Yet in interaction after...

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February 26, 2019

Row on row we stood… in the brand new courtyard… row on row of young girls in navy tunics or navy skirts, white starched shirts, ties, and polished oxfords. I wore my new navy blazer with its red school crest, because it was a special occasion. The Honourable Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander was coming to our school’s reopening, so row on row we stood. I remember it was a bright autumn day, and it was so warm that I did not need my pea jacket. I thought, “This new private all-girl school is interesting! We...

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February 11, 2019
Black History Month is about the history of all of us.

That was brought home to me loud and clear when I read Paul Douglas Walfall’s blog about the role of United Church ministers in supporting the Ku Klux Klan in the prairies in the 1920s. It is a part of history that I did not know about, and that I would rather not know about. But it is important that I know about it.

Why did I hear about this uncomfortable part of our history from Rev. Walfall, who began his life and his...
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March 4, 2019

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” —Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”

In July 2017 I received the then latest issue of The Journal of the Historical Society of the Alberta and Northwest Conference of The United Church of Canada. In that issue I was particularly interested in the article “The KKK and the Church,” written by Rev. Lloyd Lovatt. It was interesting reading and yet it was also difficult at points to absorb. I read that the Ku Klux Klan came to Alberta in the 1920s through...

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December 13, 2018

My earliest church memories are tethered to St. James-Bond United Church in Toronto. (Of course, we called it “Bond…St. James Bond, United Church,” with a Sean Connery burr.) I won’t elaborate with tales of basketball courts and bowling alleys, wonderful ministers, witty musicians, finger sandwiches, ukuleles, and poster paint because you likely have similar memories of a church with a slightly less cool name. These days, when I travel along Avenue Road, I see condos where there was once a church. And I feel a little sentimental tug—a nostalgia that I can often confuse with sadness....

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August 3, 2018

On Friday, July 27 as I sat in the General Council meeting, a flood of emotions, thoughts, and reactions washed over me. I had no idea that the plenary would have taken the direction it took. I listened and heard the stories, some of which I had heard before and some which were new to me. I said to myself, “Now I will be blamed for being the reason which led to the derailing of the meeting.”

In many ways the 43rd General Council stopped, it did not end. It stopped because we had...

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June 11, 2018

I had the amazing privilege (no pun intended) of attending the White Privilege Conference Global in May, held for the first time in Canada. (It has been held in the U.S. for the past 19 years). It was an amazing event, and I was delighted that other than school boards, The United Church of Canada seemed to have the largest delegation! We were all able to attend workshops in the morning, and two keynote speakers per day, as well as the entertainment that augmented the experience.

The idea of intersectionality was presented in a myriad of ways, including the intersections of race and...

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June 8, 2018

We are not alone.

I remember the day that these words took on new meaning for me.

I was on an almost empty subway, in the middle of the day, when an easily identifiable White supremacist got on the train. He was carpenter with a hammer hanging from his utility belt, a body inked with hateful symbols, and a toolbox full of threatening things. As soon as he got on the train, I started to plan my exit. I’ll get off at the next stop…but so will he (it was the terminal). I’ll stay on the train, but so might he. I’ll press the emergency strip, but then we...

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June 8, 2018

I was invited to the May 9–12 White Privilege Conference at Ryerson University, Toronto, by Springwater Hester-Meawassige, Youth Leadership Coordinator for the Aboriginal Ministry Circle of the United Church. She invited me because of my participation in other United Church youth events, including Wampum Camp, and my experience attending the Truth and Reconciliation Closing Ceremonies and March in Ottawa as a witness.

This conference was an eye-opening event. Throughout the four days, I met many new people and had the...