From the conclusion of Elaine Enns’ recent piece “Trauma and Memory: Challenges to Settler Solidarity” in the recent edition of Consensus: A Canadian Journal of Public Theology. Click on to read the full article HERE:
Faith communities among Settlers need to create safe spaces to give testimony about intergenerational trauma, but also provide opportunities for privileged people to face our culpability, and build courage and skill to engage in justice-work. Over the last year I have engaged a variety of groups to do this work. In several Settler workshops I have facilitated a timeline exercise, in which we construct a parallel chronology of our migration stories on one line and Indigenous history on the other. Some participants know in great detail their family and community’s history, but can only plot a few events on the Indigenous line. To complexify our histories, I invite people to engage questions like:
What are the Settler narratives your family and social group tell?
How do people talk about first acquiring or losing their land?
What are the stories told about the first immigrants in your family?
Can you detect any masks or half-truths?
In other settings, I have invited participants to wrestle with the untold stories in their family or communal narrative, probing questions of why and how these stories were silenced, by whom and the impact of that marginalization. We also investigated questions of trauma asking what stories of violence were passed on in family, church or local neighborhood narratives; and how trauma is encoded in these stories. It is my hope that in helping to facilitate my and other Settler faith communities to engage all three themes of this paper (intergenerational trauma, communal narratives and historical response-ability) we can better nurture our capacity to stand with Indigenous communities and their struggles for justice.