Walking Backward Into the Future
In describing an Indigenous worldview, Dr. Terry LeBlanc (Mi’kmaq-Acadian), suggests that communities move into the future well by walking backward. The western worldview, which tends to be more linear and forward-focused, often ignores the truth of the past while relying on the myth of progress to shape the future. However, progress in the form of the inevitable betterment of humankind is not a given.
Time alone will not undo the past and present harms of white supremacy and colonialism. We must take a long, sober, and loving look at the real roots and effects of these oppressions if people, churches, and other communities are to discern how to move into a future where more people flourish and experience shalom.
Walking Backward into the Future, Examining our Past to Find a Better Way Forward, is a course designed for people who are willing to examine the specific effects that racism and colonialism have had on their families, so that they might heal harm, right wrongs, and find resilience as we learn to love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with God and all of God’s creation.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
At this moment in time, many white people have awakened to the longstanding realities of racial injustice that plague Turtle Island. In the wake of the tragic deaths and hate crimes committed against many Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (e.g., Michael Brown, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Colten Boushie, Chantel Moore, Tina Fontaine), many people have read books and attended a handful of workshops to learn more about what racism is, how it works, and what it means to act in anti-racist ways. However, as people have begun to see how vast and complex realities such as white supremacy, racism, and colonialism are, many people’s learning journey has slowed or ground to a halt due to feelings of shame, overwhelm, helplessness and despair. As COVID restrictions have eased many have found it tempting to allow our attention to be consumed by our busy lives again. Although the realities of racism and colonialism are multidimensional and deeply embedded within our minds and institutions, we cannot retreat to the convenience of being overwhelmed.
This course takes participants through a process of re-engaging anti-racist and decolonizing work through an honest, specific, and historical approach that avoids shame, empowers, and inspires.
Using Luke 24:13-32 (The Road to Emmaus) as a framing story, and walking as both a contemplative practice and a metaphor for a slow journey, participants are invited to examine their ancestors’ (familial, cultural, collective, and chosen ancestors) unique journeys of hardship, harm, and resilience, in order to discern what wisdom might help guide them in the struggle as we work toward a racially healed and decolonized world. In this way, we learn how to walk backward into a better future.
This course is primarily designed for settler descendants in Turtle Island (North America) to address white supremacy and settler colonialism. Much of the content has been produced by, and for, people of European descent whose ancestors immigrated to Turtle Island. However, the effects of racism, and specifically whiteness, shape the lives of people racialized as white and BIPOC. Therefore, while the course largely focuses on whiteness, people of non-European descent may also find the course helpful in learning more about how racism and settler colonialism have affected their families’ lives since immigrating to Turtle Island.
Since much of the coursework involves exploring one’s ancestry, it can be a rich experience for multiple generations to attend the course together.
- Attendance at at least 4 of the 6 live sessions (in-person or Zoom)
- One-on-one walking meeting with the course facilitator in a place of significance chosen by the participant (optional)
- Engagement with material between sessions (reading/viewing & ancestor research). Minimum of 1.5 hours per week.
- Participants will need access to a copy of Healing Haunted Histories: A Settler Discipleship of Decolonization by Elaine Enns and Ched Myers.
- View the Course Participant Guide for a full description of the coursework and session outlines.
Session 1 – Introduction: Walking Backward into the Future
Session 2 – Consolation I: Our Ancestors
Session 3 – Consolation II: Privilege
Session 4 – Desolation I: Race
Session 5 – Desolation II: Trauma
Session 6 – Moving Forward
All sessions run for two hours.
In-person space is limited as the course is offered at a private residence in Ladner, BC. Zoom space is unlimited. The next course will run in 2023. Feel free to express interest or submit a question by filling out the form below.