When I approach an Aboriginal person while on outreach, I suddenly become very aware of the cross embroidered on my outreach vest. The Aboriginal peoples have been so hurt by Christians that I often fear that the symbol of the cross represents danger and mistrust, and I worry about how I will be perceived.
I had this fear when I approached Sherry, and middle-aged Inuit woman who was sitting on the sidewalk panhandling. To my relief, she greeted me with a smile and asked me to sit with her. She spoke to me about her life, her family, and her love of art. Then she asked me to pray with her. She asked that I pray for the strength to give up alcohol. I prayed with her, and when we were finished she looked at me and said “Naakuumik.” She told me this meant “Thank you.” She then spent the next 15 minutes or so teaching me several words in Inuktitut. I was a terrible pupil, as languages do not come easy for me. She teased me about my terrible pronunciation. Then she got out a small piece of paper and wrote out some words phonetically for me. You can see this in the picture below.
What a blessing to have spent time with Sherry. What a miracle it is, that after all the pain she and her family have experienced at the hands of Christians that she has not lost trust in people, or faith in prayers.
As I walked away she shouted “Aakuluk!” I looked at my card – “Love you.”