Vancouver KAIROS banner bee
KAIROS Vancouver members decided to add to their already busy lives and hold a final banner-making this Sunday. Susan and Bill Draper from KAIROS Victoria came over to the mainland with all the Vancouver Island and Gulf Island banners and we wanted a chance to display them. So we asked First United Church, in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, and they graciously said yes.
First United is no longer a worshipping congregation in the traditional sense, but it’s still a congregation and community. It’s celebrating its 125 anniversary in one of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhoods, and continues to offer space and programs for the whole community. The community is economically poor (some say it’s the poorest postal code in Canada), and many in it battle addiction, mental illness, life-long trauma, or all of these.
This is not the sum total of the community. It is primarily but not totally an Indigenous community, and in it many creative and strong people and projects are born out of the collective struggle with the impact of generations of colonization. Elders have begun patrolling the streets and bars; local women like Gladys Radek and Bernie Williams, among many others, are taking the continued murder and disappearance of Indigenous and other women to the entire country through Walk 4 Justice; others have formed healing circles, community economic development projects, and advocacy movements that take on all three levels of government.
At the church we set up food, banners and balloons, then invited people to join us, admiring their creativity.
We painted some small squares of cloth to add to banners, drank tea, and talked. Cree, Tsimpshian and Yukon people came by to talk, and one non-Aboriginal man talked about his Aboriginal friends opening his eyes to the reality of colonization, changing his life and “making me less ignorant”. A young Cree staff member talked about the vibrancy of bringing together diverse Indigenous cultures, saying that the resulting art and language is exciting and a new way of being.