I read sobering article in the Globe today by Richard Wagamese. He is a author and journalist who was born and raised a member of the Wabasseemoong First Nation in Northern Ontario. He wrote in The Globe about his struggle to run a story telling workshop for teens in a Northern BC reserve. He found his greatest obstacle to building community and helping teens was the total apathy that they feel toward their own future.
“Ennui. A thousand pound word that means you simply just don’t care any more. It’s the system that brings a people to that. It’s the Indian Act. It’s an imposed welfare mentality It’s generation after generation of crushing isolation and poverty. It’s the deeply ingrained believe that there is nothing else possible and that no one sees us or cares about us anyway. “
I’ve seen glimpses of that despair in my trip to BC earlier this month. It’s not everywhere. You can’t generalize and say that everything is hopeless but you definitely know it when you see it. I saw these works of art at the community centre and the two tell a very different story.
Now admittedly, I am no child psychologist but in this first picture I can see people and teepees, things are grounded and in scale. there are people hunting in the mountains and people down below living in the village. There is a sense of grounding and place.
The second one was is disembodied, displaced. There are eyes but no face. The tears make the meaning obvious but there’s more going on here. There is dysfunction and chaos. Just like in this picture, there are many communities who are struggling with a sense of being a displaced people. There is a lost connection with the land and with the Creator.
Reconnecting with the Creator is so vital. That is where I want to go when I try to help. I want to address that missing link but what hits me first, right in the face is a complete apathy about the future. You can’t run missions, or speak a word of peace or truth when people have no hope. My relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life and I want to share that so much but I can’t even be heard by people in crisis because they have lost all hope. Many First Nations people are undone by a surrender to the idea that this is all there is and all there ever will be. Talk is cheap and when you’re gone I’ll still be here with this issue, and this place, the same as it has ever been.
To bring hope and to bring new life – to bring Jesus to light in the conversation we first must open the door to hope. But how to you bring hope to someone’s life when they haven’t recognized Jesus yet?