I have been reflecting on where we, as Christians, can find the sin of assimilation in our scriptures, and where we can look for hope. Certainly one of the places is in the opening chapter of Genesis, verse 27: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God He created them….” In assimilation we sought to undo some of the work of the Creator. Not content to meet, respect, and celebrate the distinctiveness of First Nations peoples and cultures as they were, finding in them a reflection of God’s image – as our own faith and convictions would have us do – but rather seeking, for our own benefit, to do a better job, to remake them in our own image.
If there is hope for Canadians in our relationship with First Nations people, and I very much believe there is, it is in the work of truth and reconciliation. This goes to the essence of what it means to be followers of Christ. As Paul of Tarsus wrote in his Second Letter to the Church in Corinth, “…if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,* not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.”