Prayer Service before the River Run
2016 06 02 – Organised by Christian Peacemaker Teams and the Student Christian Movement
We are many individuals but we are one body.
We share a basic chemistry with each other and with the creation we are a part of.
The vapour on a single breath in winter and the sweat on the single body and summer – we share this nature with clouds, springs, tides and oceans.
When one part suffers, the whole suffers. When one river is poisoned, that poisons the whole of creation, including all of us.
As people of faith and people gathered in this watershed, we bring our hearts and minds and bodies together to speak for the waters, to support the Anishinabekwe of Grassy Narrows, and to commit to a reconciling relationship that starts with justice.
Sarah Mikhaiel (SCM) leads the Litany of Repentance
Litany of Repentance (Sarah)
Adapted from The Fire of Peace: a prayer book
Reader: We ask for forgiveness for our complicity in the destruction of our creation. Please respond with “Forgive Us, We Pray”
For hardness of heart
All: Forgive us, we pray
For wanting more than we need
For wasting the gifts of the earth
For our overconsumption
For ignoring the calls of indigenous people
For looking the other way
For trusting in the power of money
For refusing to listen to the first people’s of this land
For desiring dominance..
For thinking we are superior
For lacking humility..
For failing to risk..
For failing to act..
For failing to understand
For failing to negotiate
For failing to hope
For failing to love
For our arrogance
For our impatience
For our violence
For our cowardice
For our pride
For our silence
I will read the next part and you say after me “Change Our Hearts”
That we learn compassion
All: Change Our Hearts
That we act with justice
That we live with in hope
That we might be strong
That we do your will
That we might be peace and justice
Grassy Narrows -Asubpeeschoseewagong.- one hour north of Kenora (Justin Eisinga)
Originally written by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen for a service at Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg.
Grassy Narrows, where the water narrows and the wild water grasses grow.
Where the fish emerge from their eggs and grow healthy and strong
Their rich protein feeds the people- Anishinabek
Fishermen come from the world to find the fish and the men of Grassy Narrows
guide them to the best spots on the lakes and rivers.
The money buys flour for bannock and fuel for the boats.
Then one day the community realises something is wrong.
Judy da Silva says, “the fish were acting strange. They were jumping right out of
the water- onto the land and then dying there.”
As if they could not bear to stay in their habitat anymore.
The elders said that this was wrong. Something was wrong with the water.
Mercury- whatever would give a company the right to dump such toxic chemicals
into the river
As if it would dissolve and disappear.
Instead it flowed down the Wabigoon-English River system- into the lakes- into
the grasses where the baby fish grew. It entered their scaly bodies and then-
through the fish flesh roasted on campfires and fried on kitchen stoves- into the
bodies of the people- Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishnabek.
Directives from government – close the fishery – it is not safe to eat the fish
Out of town fishermen stay away- find your fish in other places
Now there is dire unemployment- and a main source of food is poison.
What can a community do but to eat the fish- they are still there in plentiful supply.
Now babies are born with nervous ticks and older people begin to need canes and walkers.
No one takes full responsibility- families must fight for compensation
And the water is poison.
The first week of June is an event is Toronto called Grassy Narrows River Run.
Asubpeeschoseewagone Netum Anishnabek /the people of Grassy Narrows- come forth. Resist again. Go to Toronto to speak to the other people, to the politicians. Tell them your story once again. Walk, march, sing and drum.
Scientists tell us that the river system can be cleaned up. There is a heavy moral responsibility to Asubpeeschoseewagung Netum Anishnabek, to the fish, the birds the insects, the water, to right this wrong.
The rivers and lakes can be pure again. We will stand with Grassy Narrows
until their river flows with life again.
Wheatpaste poster close to Queen’s Park ahead of the River Run
Litany of Healing with First Nations (Ryan Weston)
Adapted from an Ojibwa prayer for healing
Reader: Grandparent God, look at our brokenness. We know that in all creation, only the human family has strayed from the sacred way. We know that we are the ones who are divided and we are the ones who must come back together to walk in the Sacred Way. As we reflect on the history of the relationship between the church and Aboriginal peoples, we pray for openness.
All: In our learning and our growing, may there be healing.
Reader: As we open ourselves to the stories of Aboriginal peoples, as we open ourselves to see how our greed has hurt them, we pray for compassionate listening.
All: In telling and hearing, may there be healing.
Reader: As we feel the pain of individuals and communities who have lived in Grassy Narrows and have been affected by the poisoned river, we pray for a hunger to seek new ways of walking the Earth together.
All: In our recognition of need for forgiveness and change, may there be healing.
Reader: As we work together to heal the Earth, to restore the river, we pray for expectant anticipation that our life together in the Church will be enriched and deepened.
All: In the giving and receiving, may there be healing.
Reader: As we move forward as the people of God, lifting up and supporting our sisters and brothers of Grassy Narrows, we pray for God’s richest blessings to them.
All: In the honouring and the sharing, may there be healing.
Reader: Grandparent, Sacred One, teach us Love, Compassion, and Honour, that we may heal the Earth, and heal each other.
The Toronto River Run at College and University, later in the day.
For more information about Grassy Narrows and the River Run, see www.freegrassy.net