At the Fort Langley Remembrance Day ceremony this morning it struck me, much more than other years, that I witnessed an act of reconciliation. The Kwantlen First Nation Elders and Drummers gave an honour song for: “those heroic men and women who made the supreme sacrifice to ensure that we, who survive, and generations to come, might live in peace and be free to pursue, within the bounds of decency, law and order, a way of life each one of us may choose” (Remembrance Day service program, Fort Langley Remembrance Day Committee).
Indigenous and non-indigenous, believers and non-believers witnessed together with gratitude and solemnity in a very ‘colonial’ ceremony inclusive of singing ‘God Save the Queen’, several prayers and hymns and the involvement of the RCMP. Yet, we stood together with a common purpose today. I want to recognize that our neighbors, the Kwantlen, gave generously by their presence. As hosts on their unceded land, they were respectfully present and participating in a thoroughly colonial ceremony. This gift of presence is made more significant in spite of a lamentable history, continued systemic injustices, racism and lack of institutional and personal integrity in walking together.
Today I have hope for more sincere acts of reconciliation. Perhaps we can ask ourselves when we as non-indigenous people can next stand in similar solidarity and nurture good relationships of healing and alliance?
Thank you to the Fort Langley Remembrance Day Committee with contributions of the Lions Club, Business association and community churches. And thank you for the particular gift of the Kwantlen today for their true act of reconciliation by their presence and participation. May all those who witnessed your gift do similarly so that we can heal together.