Sunday, December 17, 2023

Personal Transformation in the Settler Experience - a tall tale.

I've been to meetings were settler folks talk about how transformative their First Nation community visit is for them. They share these experiences as a kind of validation of their goodwill, as indicators of their capacity to hear and to care. 

I wonder what about our communities is so transformative for them.

Is it the welcome they receive upon arrival when they are feed and greeted warmly?

They almost sound surprised when they assure us they, and those with them, found their experience personally transformative, a kind of personal epiphany.

I wonder what about them transformed.

They seem the same to me. Perhaps they are bit relieved that they get to do what they had wanted to do all along. 

I sit there and wonder at it all. 

Is it that it is transformative to realize that Indigenous people are just people? Is it transformative to have one's guilt absolved by meeting generous hosts? I really don't know. 

I ask them what was transformative.

Their answer seem incoherent, half phrases and pauses. By asking I seem to call into question their experience, their gift they just shared with us. It is as though by asking I am taking back their transformation.

Another meeting, another sharing of personal transformation. 

This time I just listen.