This past year on Outtatown I learned that there can be so much diversity within one country, let alone the world. It would be easy for me to talk about the diversity and racial struggles in South Africa, but I’m going to talk about my own country instead.
Travelling across western Canada, I saw how many different groups that our nation beholds. Growing up in coastal British Columbia, I’ve always seen the beauty of Aboriginal culture, especially in artwork. While in Manitoba on Outtatown, we learned so much immersed in life on the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation community, through experiencing traditional practices like the sweat lodge, hearing from elders, and watching one man make carvings out of deer bones. All of this was incredible.
We also had a day of learning about their past and the struggles and the pain that they’ve gone through. I had learned about residential schools and how reservations came into existence, but never as in depth as I did in Winnipeg during our blanket exercise. Hearing just how excruciating and horrific my European ancestors made it for the Anishinabe and other Indigenous peoples brought me guilt and anger. That being said, I am very happy to see how strong and resilient this group is, and I hope that we can continue to show them the love and respect that they truly deserve.
Canada is a huge country filled with people from all corners of the Earth. It was really special to enter into others’ holy spaces and learn about faiths different from our own. As Christians, we are called to love everyone and we cannot let a difference in faith or religion stop us from doing that. I have loved having the opportunity to experience so many cultures within Canada and South Africa, and Outtatown is definitely to thank for that.
– Cole Stewart, South Africa student 2016-17