My next door neighbours are from St. Theresa Point, a remote Indian reserve accessible only by airplane and ice roads. They spend part of their year in the city and part of the year on the reserve. If I were to be totally truthful with you I would have to say that upon moving in to our home three years ago (tomorrow will mark three years for us) I was rather annoyed that we had them as our neighbours. Before you go thinking that I’m a horrible person, hear me out. There were random toys, bikes and furniture strewn all over their front and back lawns. Their actual garbage always spilled sloppily into the back lane. There were always tons of people coming and going and the kids did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. I ran out a few times to grab the same little girl off of the top of vehicles (right after it had rained) only to have her run right back and sit in the middle of the busy street. I thought that for sure one of them would get shmucked by a car. The boys would climb all over the tree in our back parking area and be up until all hours of the night (and these were little boys, not teenagers). My neighbours annoyed me and this is where my thinking stopped. I chose not to look further or harder or past stereotypes and generalities.
After James and I returned from Haiti I felt God challenge me to look at these kids differently. I was reminded of the Sunday school song, ‘This Little Light of Mine’ and how God tells us to be a light shining into peoples lives. If I’m telling Rhys to grow-up being a light into his community and I myself am not practicing it then there is little hope that he will take my words to heart. I started letting Rhys and Ammie play with them. I started opening our gate to the whole group so they could come in our yard to play tag, ride the bikes, use our sidewalk chalk and play soccer. I started bringing out cookies and freezes after dinner and sitting on our front steps talking to the older kids. One of the little girls would mix her Cree and English so much that her older brother would sit and translate for me. After spending little moments getting to know these kids I started to like them. They started coming by and looking forward to the days where they’d get to sit and have homemade cookies and my heart started to hurt for how I’d looked at them before and my eyes were opened to their lives and situation. I started looking harder and further and I saw precious little people. Now when I walk past these kids in the hallways of Rhys’ school their faces light-up and they wave at me. One of the little boys comes and stands right in front of me and just smiles the biggest smile…he’s always happy that I know his name.
All of that was a build-up to this video. I don’t know much about the reserves that we have in Manitoba. I hear snippet’s here and there about different things going on but this is just shocking. It saddens me partially because I can put a face to some of the residents but mainly because it’s just wrong that people are living like this. Take a minute to watch. The community where we were staying in Haiti had running water (although not all of them do). Why is this happening in our own backyard?