Monthly Archives: February 2013

Reorientation

Being back at home, I am reassessing the orientation of my blog and how to stay true to the title “heart and mind for justice” now subtitled “from Israel/Palestine to canada.” Like Lilla Watson says,

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

I am now dividing this blog into different categories. If you are reading because you expressly want eye-witness accounts from EAPPI, rest assured you will find a category called:  Israel/Palestine. There are also other things that want to be written including snippets from my thesis research about Indigenous rights that I would like to make accessible, bits of wisdom from my reading and research about women in the ecumenical movement (for WCC’s 10th assembly) and other social justice issues that I am passionate about. After reading James Loney’s book “Captivity: 118 Days in Iraq and the Struggle for a World Without War,” I was inspired by his self-reflexive approach in making sense of the violence he has witnessed and worked against. This has inspired me to dig a bit deeper into more personal and theological reflection.  Of course these ‘categories’ may be porous and shouldn’t be contained in isolation from one another. For instance I see many links between struggles for human rights in my own context with that of Israel/Palestine.

idle no more I have been very inspired by and engaged in the Idle No More movement upon my return to canada (lower case ‘c’ intentional). Idle No More is an Indigenous resistance movement across the country where people are re-asserting their rights, sovereignty and reinvigorating a social movement to draw awareness to the ugly consequences of colonialism in this land. It was started by four women (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) and caught on like wild fire through social media resulting in demonstrations and creative actions across the land including the hunger strike of Chief Teresa Spence. www.idlenomore.ca

Where I live, there have been demonstrations against the Northern Gateway pipeline that would pump oil from the Alberta tar sands across British Columbia to the northern coast of the Pacific Ocean. This project has enormous ecological implications and trespasses on Indigenous, unceded territory which consists of most of western canada (meaning people never gave up their lands or title to them and they were never negotiated through any treaties so all non-Aboriginal settlements on this land are illegal by canada’s own laws and what has been inherited through British law before that). Nevertheless, this pipeline is seen as a lucrative revenue-generating project by the government and corporations.

Some local Syilx and Cree women here organized a series of talks about Bill C-45 and the omnibus bill the current federal government has been pushing through which again challenges current laws and the recognition of Indigenous rights (especially the ‘duty to consult’ to which the canadian government is obligated before introducing anything that could impact Indigenous communities and nations).  Their talks have been well attended and mark a truly historic moment in building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in this region. www.seriesoffour.ca

I feel invigorated to be a part of this awakening process! I see many links between the context here with that of Israel/Palestine and these are the kinds of reflections that want to come out through this blog. I am grateful I have had the opportunity to study at length processes of colonization, how power operates, what racism is and the potential of social movements working for justice and reconciliation.  This helps me to make sense of what is happening there, here and in me. Like Bob Marley says, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” Decolonization starts right from each of us – our way of understanding history, our ways of seeing and doing things.

The views contained herein are personal to me and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Church, my employer, EAPPI or the WCC. If you would like to publish the information contained here (including posting on a website), or distribute it further, please first contact me for permission. Thank you.

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being home

Some people say, “home is where the heart is.” If this is so, then a huge piece of my heart is in the northern West Bank and with the people I met during my time with EAPPI. “Re-entry” as we call it or “returning to one’s home” can be a jarring and confusing experience. Though I have been through other, similar transitions, as this one, each journey home is unique and presents new discoveries and challenges. I miss my three teammates I worked closely with in Jayyous during three months.  I grieve the fact that technological difficulties create a huge gap to keep in regular contact with people I got to know and develop strong bonds with. Most especially, I miss our neighbours. Going over to their house, drinking tea, chatting and playing with the children was a most warming, familial environment to be in a context where things are abnormal and structural violence undergirds every aspect of daily life.

While I am no longer in the land which now owns part of my heart, I search for ways to continue reflecting on and sharing the stories of people striving for their dignity and  a peaceful existence. Part of accompaniment for me is about bearing witness to people’s realities which is often painful.  I cannot unsee the things I have seen or unhear the things I have heard. The responsibility of this weighs on me – it is a part of “being in solidarity with.” When I came home I felt tired, like I just needed to focus on catching up on sleep for several weeks. I realized this is not jet lag but a result of the taxing effect the occupation has on mind, body and soul. Nightmares from the occupation rob me of sleep. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night from a bad dream. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep when I hear news like  the Israeli army has recently been in Jayyous village firing excessive loads of tear gas to quell the people demonstrating against the wall. Or that two more caravans (mobile homes) have been added to the illegal Israeli outpost on the Jayyous farmland behind the separation barrier.  If I feel this tired, how must people feel who have to live this day after day? From where do people gather strength to face another morning? From where do I gather my strength to hold on to the stories entrusted to me when people have asked me to “go and tell your people, your government about what is happening here.” For me, advocacy is something I can choose to do or not. I can live in a bubble and tell myself that these problems and stories have nothing to do with me. But they do have to do with me. I am implicated in this story as we all are through a web of connections not least of which are our our economic ties and government’s foreign policies.

https://www.facebook.com/JayyousWeeklyDemonstrations

The views contained herein are personal to me and do not necessarily reflect those of the United Church, EAPPI or the WCC. If you would like to publish the information contained here (including posting on a website), or distribute it further, please first contact me for permission. Thank you.

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