A word from Chief Kenny Blacksmith:
"Many of you know since January 2010 the Journey of Freedom led by a coalition of the First Peoples of Canada have crisscrossed our nation visiting First Nations, Inuit, Metis and regional centers with many more communities and centers to visit before they complete this initial Journey of Freedom by the end of May.
The Jouney of Freedom is bringing a healing message of forgiveness, hope and freedom to Aboriginal Canadians who have been affected by the negative legacy of the Indian Residential School system. Our message is simple: "It's time for our people to be free. For too long, unforgiveness and bitterness have been a prison locking a vision that gives life and hope to our people. It's time to let go of a negative past."
The Indian Residential School system has cast a long shadow on the lives of many individuals, families and communities, and on our nation as a whole. This was acknowledged in a profound way, on June 11, 2008, when canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended an apology to the First Nations, Inuit and Metis people for the hisoric wrongs and abuses experienced as a result of the Indian Residential School system. He also asked for forgiveness, and this journey is a response to that request.
"To our knowledge, of all the public apologies that have been made regarding atrocities to Aboriginal peoples, our Canadian Prime Minister is the first to explicitly ask for forgiveness. This leaves our people in a position to respond. We can either choose to hold on to the past, or embrace freedom, which is available through an act of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not political. It is not legislative. Forgiveness is spiritual. Therefore we need to respond spiritually. This six-month, spiritual journey will make ready the hearts of our people to formally respond to the apology and to the specific request for forgiveness of Prime Minister Harper this June."
Chief Kenny Blacksmith
On Friday, August 23, 2002, I was in Batoche at the battlefield of Louis Riel. It was a very hot day. I walked to the edge of a ridge and waited.... and prayed. "What Father... what would you have said, prayed, repented of... here... now?" A prayer of repentance welled up in my heart and poured forth concerning all the bloodshed and injustice.
I had a small plastic bag with me. The Lord then said to scoop some of the soil into it with my hand. The land was very dry and hard so I loosened some of it with a small stick. As I put the first handful into the bag Papa said, "Take three scoops. I will show you what to do with it when the time comes." I anointed the area with the two oils, myrrh and sweet apples, and drove back to Prince Albert.
Three years later I passed through Lethbridge while on the assignment, "Joesph's Coat for Canada". One of my dear friends, and amazing intercessory partner Vicki, lived there at the time. She is the one God used to place the colored plaques in our northern territories.
The next morning as I was about to leave, Jesus spoke to my spirit and said, "Give the Batoche soil to Vicki. She'll know what to do with it."
The Presesnce of the Lord was powerful. So with great reverence and emotion, I obediently placed the soil into her hands. We were both very aware of the significance of the transaction.
Five years later, on Friday April 23,2010, I received a phone call from a very excited Vicki with a wonderful story to tell.
She felt she was to attend the Journey of Freedom tour which was in Winnipeg that week-end. Her spirit lept when she heard Pastor Art Lucier from Terrace B.C. share that he has the same birthday as Louis Reil. She approached him after the meeting and told him about the soil from Batoche. Vicki felt she was to give the soil to him which he received. Later they visited the Louis Reil memorial site where he scattered some of the soil.
I spoke with Pastor Art who told me he was going to take the soil with him on the Journey of Freedom tour across Canada, and sprinkle some of it at each meeting place. The blood in the soil that has cried out for justice can now be satisfied as our host peoples release forgiveness across our nation in responce to our Prime Minister's request for forgivenss.
"Oh thank-you dear Jesus... You have done great things and it is marvelous in our sight."
Art Lucier sprinkling the soil at Louis Riel's grave site. Barry Maracle praying for Art.