It says something about our busy lives that I had a book come out this fall and never blogged about it. And it’s a book I’m so proud to have co-authored!
I love the title: Our Home and Treaty Land. My co-author for the book is Dr Raymond Aldred. Ray is my friend. He’s also the head of the Indigenous Studies Program at Vancouver School of Theology. As co-authors Ray and I are a good Venn diagram, with some overlaps and some differences. We are both from the prairies—me from Treaty Four and Ray from Treaty Eight. We are both Christian pastors, although we represent different denominations, myself a Lutheran and Ray an Anglican. But I am settler-descended (from Norwegian and other backgrounds) and Ray is nêhiyaw (Cree), and this is what created space for the dialogue that is this book.
For years Ray and I would sometimes meet for breakfast in downtown Montreal on one of his trips to the city on speaking engagements or family visits. Before long we realised that though we shared the prairies in common, as a settler and an Indigenous person we had starkly different experiences of growing up there.
From these meetings a book was born. In addition to teaching, pastoring, and administration (he took a turn as Dean), Ray has been increasingly invited to give public talks to audiences across Turtle Island the last few years. The book translates those insightful, funny, and powerful talks into an Indigenous-Settler conversation. The chapters take turns between Ray’s reflections and my responses.
Ray’s main point is that Canadians who are well-meaning but unsure about our path to Truth and Reconciliation are searching for an origin story that’s has been right there in front of us all along: Treaty. Treaty is the reason we are in this place. Treaty tells us how we came to be here. It defines what our right relations should be. Treaty reminds us of the obligations our Settler ancestors agreed to, how we and our governments have neglected and tried to duck from them, and what we can do to now walk the good path and honour them.
Did I mention I’m very proud of this book? I’ve learned a lot from Ray over the years, and in writing my sections of it I learned more. I am still learning. The book itself is an example, for me, of the kinds of Treaty relations Ray outlines. It is a starting point for Canadians (especially Christian-background Canadians, but it isn’t written in an exclusive way) who want to learn to walk (sometimes literally) a shared Creation story. It has some humour, some history, some advice, some resources, and lots of practical tips to take that first step or that next step towards Treaty relationship on this Land. As Ray would say, may this Land let you live.
For e-copies of Ray and my book, search Our Home and Treaty Land on Amazon. For a copy you can hold in your hands, look here: (unless you’re in Antigonish Nova Scotia, where it’s in the local bookstores, The Curious Cat and the Five Cents to a Dollar). If you want the full URL for ordering the book directly from Wood Lake Books, here it is: https://www.woodlakebooks.com/search/results/inventory/eBooks/All-eBooks/Our-Home-And-Treaty-Land . By the way, check out some of Ray’s amazing public talks!