The outgoing Executive Director of thNanci Lee shares a poem reflecting on the Tatamagouche Centre's November 2023 gathering.

Campbell House at Tatamagouche Centre
Campbell House at Tatamagouche Centre
Credit: Lori Ransom
Published On: February 26, 2024

In November 2023, the Atlantic Christian Training Centre (Tatamagouche Centre) hosted a four-day gathering in a form they have long been offering based on ceremony, food, talking circle sharing, deep respect, and drawing in of ancestors and the land. The idea came from one of the Mi’kmaw Clan Mothers, Cathy Martin, to reach seven generations back and seven generations forward. For the 56 people who attended, a key element was spending time telling and remembering the truth. 

The Tatamagouche Centre created a target="_blank">one-hour audio tour that brings the story of the land alive in a way that stimulates reflection. While designed for use while at the property, anyone familiar with the Tatamagouche Centre may enjoy listening to it. The United Church of Canada has committed to rematriation of the Tatamagouche Centre land with Women of First Light, a charitable collective of Clan Mothers, Grandmothers, and young Indigenous women from across Wabanaki. Rematriation honours this unceded land as having always been Mi’kmaw and that it continues to be a sacred, trusted gathering place for L’nu and United Church, Black, 2SLGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and other communities. The rematriation process is not an extractive form of transferring ownership. Instead, it continues a long journey of love, peace, friendship, harm repair, and solidarity, the next bold step in a beautiful journey of righting relations and opening to Indigenous stewardship. 

The outgoing Executive Director of the Centre, Nanci Lee, wrote this poem reflecting on her experience at the November gathering.

1. What is reconciliation?

Why can’t we just move forward?

We’re still in the truth phase
said one of the Clan Mothers
of Truth and Reconciliation.

We look back seven generations
to our ancestors and 
forward seven generations
to our children and our
children’s children in all 
we do she said it in circle with
Sage smoke rising and 
the generosity of heart 
and spirit that comes 
with ceremony and trust.

Some people are still 
understanding the legacies 
of genocide and 
colonization, of contact.

That’s why there is still 
anger and pain around 
unmarked burial sites.

We need room 
for that. Owning the 
violence of our shared path 
is part of our long journey
together. Saying the 
Truth, accepting 
responsibility for 
what is ours.

2. What is justice?

What can I do to help Rematriation?

One of the most powerful
forms of justice is listening, 
not stepping out of the 
circle because Rematriation
honours All Our Relations.

But making room.

Making room for other
ways of being, gathering, 
holding space and a
slower pace, without 
agenda or logframe 
moving in ceremony
in small circles 
of trust. Making
room for trauma
and discomfort but
not asking for Indigenous
people to keep 
opening old wounds
for our learning.

Making room for
reconciling our own 
ancestral healing, 
our own relationship
to land, this land, 
our own spiritual
bundles and baggage.

Helping to heal the land
as the foundation for 
all of our healing.

All of us doing the 
deep sacred work 

3. What is peace and friendship?

What do I have to do to be a good ally?

Before you ask how to ally
ask how to be a good friend
and neighbour. A good friend 
asks how are you doing? How 
can I help you celebrate 
this moment of birth of success?

What medicines can I offer 
in your grief, in this pain.

How can we, like the 
Clan Mothers, like our
highest spiritual selves 
and faiths, move in a praxis
of love and spirit. Not only
out of Treaty responsibility
and service though that is
there too if we can lose the
hierarchies that come with 
charity. Not of what we think
anyone needs but we all need.

The love we know in family.

The long game of deep love, of 
hurt and harm, repair, taking 
one another by the ear and 
moving forward together in that
deal deep and sacred love for
ourselves, the land, for each other 
and all Creation.

—Nanci Lee


The views contained within these blogs are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of The United Church of Canada.

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