The Mohawk words “Akwe Nia’Tetewá:neren” (in English, “All My Relations”) were added to The United Church of Canada’s crest in 2012, recognizing that we are all connected to each other and all of creation.
A recent visit from the Uniting Church in Australia’s Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress demonstrated the truth of this phrase. The visit was part of a dialogue on reconciliation between our two countries and churches. A return visit from Canada took place in March 2018.
The Australians arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, and after exploring its urban Indigenous context, were scheduled to fly up the coast to the Indigenous community of Bella Coola. The United Churches there had worked to ensure a meaningful visit, but wildfires intervened. Concerned that the community might need to provide refuge for those displaced by fire, everyone reluctantly decided to cancel the visit.
Several phone calls later, friends in Peepeekisis and Carry the Kettle First Nations in Saskatchewan helped out with “Plan B.” The warmth with which the visitors were received was overwhelming. In Peepeekisis, after a brief service in the beloved old church, everyone was invited to a community feast, where the Australian guests participated in sacred ceremony. At Carry the Kettle, a visit to the annual powwow turned into the Australians being part of the Grand Entry—an incredible honour, and an experience that most will likely never have again.
This happened because of a simple recognition, that no matter how far apart we are, we are all connected; we are all relatives.
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