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Indigenous issues on the docket at Kairos meeting

It was cold outside, but warm and inviting inside at the Christ Church Cathedral where Joe Deom met with members of Montreal’s faith communities to share his knowledge on a variety of Indigenous issues. (Tehosterihens Deer, The Eastern Door)

It was a cold and nasty day January 19, in the minus 30-degree weather, but not enough to stop Joe Deom from bringing awareness on Indigenous concerns to a group of interested listeners at the Christ Church Cathedral.

The meeting took place on the second floor of 1444 avenue Union with guests from Montreal, who were interested in learning more about their neighbours.

“The purpose of this event is to offer hospitality and a place of meeting so that who we are as settlers can learn from our Kanien’kehá:ka neighbours,” said organizer and reverend Jan Jorgensen.

The event began at 11 a.m. with a talking circle, to which each individual gave an introduction and expressed their interest of justice and their action on how to aid Indigenous people with their problems.

The event continued with a lunch and an introduction to Kairos before the talk with Joe Deom.

Kairos is an organization that unites Canadian churches and religious organizations to take action on justice issues.

Kairos is a Greek word that means “the right time or the critical moment” and the group focuses on many social topics all around the world. The group consists of 10 churches and other religious organizations that were formed in 2001.

The talk began at 1 p.m. with Deom discussing border issues, Canadian Indigenous rights and the Doctrine of Discovery, among other topics.

Deom began the talk with the Ohen:ton Karihwatehkwen and transitioned to border issues. Deom brought up the problems and history of the Haudenosaunee passport and how some countries still give individuals a hard time with entering and/or leaving the country.

“I heard more clearly that Canada makes it difficult for people with Indigenous passports to return. This part of the talk was important to me because it is a concrete demonstration of the Canadian government’s refusal to recognize the sovereignty of the First Nations Peoples,” said Jorgensen.

Deom also brought up topics of Canadian and Indigenous relations.

“Looking at self-government, how First Nations will govern using federal frameworks. The government is still imposing how we are supposed to govern ourselves. Communities must prove they can financially support their community,” said Deom.

“Eventually the federal government will withdraw financial support to Indigenous communities because they’re getting rid of the Indian Act, and are trying to get rid of the financial responsibility as well.”

Deom closed this section with a lengthy discussion of truth and reconciliation, also bringing up topics of the environment.

Deom closed the talk with the Doctrine of Discovery, which was used by European monarchies during the 15th century. This was used to colonize all lands outside of Europe, and because Indigenous people were non-Christians, they were considered non-human and thus, they considered the property empty.

“I thought it went pretty good; they had good questions mainly concerning the Doctrine of Discovery and Canadian and Indigenous rights, said Deom.

“These people are wonderful and nice; I enjoyed bringing up these concerns to them. I would be happy to do another event like this, it’s fun and informative to bring awareness to these issues.”

Many individuals enjoyed the talk.

“The talk provided an excellent opportunity to discuss important issues such as the Doctrine of Discovery,” said attendee John Meehan. “It was good that people were there from so many Christian churches. I think the talk mobilized people to take action locally to raise awareness of these issues.”

“I love meeting people, old and new. It’s just good that we have a heart for justice and it’s good that we can understand our good neighbours and be good neighbours to them,” said Jorgensen. “I think the doctrine is important because it’s foundational, it’s what put all this into place.”

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