Warm reunions in Sioux Lookout

Sioux Lookout, ON. 7:00AM Friday

We went to sleep to a full moon shining on water and trees and woke early to misty lakes reflecting a perfect pink and blue sky. The long gravel landing platform and unfortunately derelict, lovely old station at Sioux Lookout pulled into view, and so did seven people waving and carrying banners. We were joined by Millie, one of a number of passengers who has been talking with Minnie and Bert and asking what the banners are about.

It was wonderful to see Terry Lynne, Aileen, Garnet and others again. Sioux Lookout is in Anishnaabe territory, and in this mixed community there can be real tensions between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, including the youth. Many years ago the Sioux Lookout Anti-Racism Committee (SLARC) was formed to address tensions in the community and schools, and a steady core of people have carried the work on, offering workshops, class discussions, art displays, a music festival and programs for youth. In its own first steps toward racial justice work KAIROS has learned much from the members of SLARC who have also identified as a local KAIROS Community.  Members have offered the Blanket Exercise, tackled water and climate justice issues in Sioux Lookout, and more.

Seeing Garnet Anjeconeb again was a great gift. A residential school survivor, elder and teacher, Garnet is one of SLARC’s guiding lights and a bridge between communities. For years he has expressed his own healing process in care for others and in the possibility of right relationship. He, Minnie and Bert immediately fell into conversation while I learned more about the Anishnaabe school system and caught up with the KAIROS members. Terry Lynne is another SLARC founder and a leader in the KAIROS family, and our visit was far too short.

VIA could only give us ten minutes and too soon we had to climb aboard again with a United Church and Anishnaabe school district banner, when we would rather have spent much more time with the good people of Sioux Lookout. A parting gift of homemade treats was passed up through the train window as the banners started rolling east again.  With regret we waved goodbye. Chi meegwetch!

Filed in: Indigenous Rights


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