Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Real Heroes

There is an incredibly beautiful event going on today. It is making the news in Saskatchewan but it should be front page throughout the world in light of the days we're living in. It's taking place on Red Pheasant Reserve and it's a feast to celebrate the life of Colten Bushie. If you don't know the story of Colten, you can google his name and read how he was shot and killed when he and a group of friends pulled into the farm yard of an armed and defensive farmer here in Saskatchewan. I'm not going to debate the events, I wasn't there, but the bottom line is that a young First Nations man was killed and his family misses him dearly. I put my thoughts here long ago.

The racial divide was amplified when the story broke as racist and hate-filled commentary flooded the internet over this incident. It was illuminating the dark pockets of racism and hatred that percolate in communities and cities across our province, in particular. It seemed to give those who value property over life a platform to spread their hatred for others and it gave voice to the fear and hatred that First Nations people struggle under every day.

And yet, today. Colten Bushie's family is hosting a feast. It's one year to the day that Colten was shot and died. One year since the family was treated in what can only be described as an "insensitive" manner by the police who informed them of Colten's death and then combed their home for evidence against him, the victim, while his mother howled in grief.  And yet, today...a feast. And the RCMP who have since worked on the case and kept the family informed and done their best to repair the damage done in those first horrific moments...are invited. In fact, anyone is invited. Farmers. Families. Friends. Police. It's a movement towards reconciliation that I can't even fathom having the grace to make and yet Colten's family, in their worst days, are exhibiting the kind of forgiveness and grace many can't even muster against the smallest slight.

I'm incredibly moved by this family. I have watched from a distance as they've fought to have Colten's character and true nature remembered in days where there was a campaign to paint him as a dangerous threat. I have watched them in their grief, remind others that forgiveness and peace are the way to reconciliation. I have watched them speak in the media and urge for the divide to be bridged, not widened, as they missed their son every step of the way.

If they can afford this generous gift of forgiveness and reconciliation in their grief, how can any of us hold back the same.

I think these are true heroes. Those who reach into their pain and pull out whatever beauty and peace they can and generously give it to others who need it even more. They are an example to me of the type of forgiveness I need to be doling out in circumstances that have cost me far less than the life of one of my sons.
Colten's mom, Debbie Baptiste, and his Uncle Alvin.