I've lived in Canada since crossing the border in 1990 after our whirlwind honeymoon, but it took me 20 years to take the step to be an official Canadian Citizen. After marrying my Canadian beau, I was perfectly content to be a visitor- landed immigrant, then permanent resident. Growing up in Minnesota, I was raised to pledge my allegiance to the USA, salute the flag and "Live by the Girl Scout Law". Needless to say, my American Pride was deeply embedded within. Even after I had a miraculous brush with heaven in 1996 and truly understood that my eternal citizenship is in heaven, (Philippians 3:19-21), I was in no rush to become a Canadian Citizen.
But God had other plans... (click the slideshow with the right arrow to view pictures)
With each passing year of my marriage and living in Saskatoon, I'd readily celebrate the fourth of July and Canada Day, but I felt like an outsider. Being a landed immigrant/permanent resident for a long time enabled me to have itchy feet, meaning- feeling like I didn't belong here or that my "real" earthly home was in the states. In and around 2010, God spoke to my heart (as He often does if I am willing to hear), and gently said to me "Jodi, I've given you a husband, four daughters, a ministry here in Canada. I've shown you a vision for this nation, but unless you become a citizen of Canada, I cannot release the fullness of that vision in you and through you unless you take that step of obedience."
A bit of my pride was revealed that day.
So I gathered up my courage and applied for citizenship, studied Canadian history, took the test and attended my citizenship ceremony with a plethora of other people from across the nations taking that same step. In that auditorium, I was a visible minority in that room and was humbled by the experience no doubt.
I honour my roots of my heritage and culture from my ancestry streams of Norway and the USA. Recognizing the past and all that went into forming me- the good, the bad, the ugly is a part of my story. Joining the ranks of my fellow Canadians, my story is woven into Canada's story. Although it took a wee time for me to get there, I honour my roots now here.
When the Canadian Museum of Human Rights museum vision and mission was confirmed in 2008 and then opened formally in Winnipeg in 2014 (The city where I met my husband in 1988), I have visited numerous times. I find myself drawn there. I don't find myself to be a history buff, but I do find myself mesmerized by the truth that what begins in our hearts for restoration is meant to be lived out for the sake of others. There is a reason why we are living in the city, town, nation for such a time as this. The Canadian Human Rights Museum affirms that for me.
Our Canada, My Story.
As I am on a continual journey of faith shifting gears from full out service with WJOF and women's ministries for 16 years to now shifting my focus to justice issues of sexual exploitation and gender inequality with HRC these last few years, I am grateful for the journey of citizenship. No country is perfect. The CHRM is not perfect but it is profound. Human Rights stirs up a multiple of emotions. Most exhibits are ones we can all agree upon whereas deeply controversial subjects are interspersed throughout that can cause one person's blood to boil and the other to be AOK. Regardless, I am deeply grateful for the CHRM and the conversations that it brings to the surface.
As you visit the museum, it's architectural brilliance is known as "From Darkness to Light". As a follower of Jesus, deeper analogies of the eternal darkness and eternal light are ignited in my soul as I walk from the bottom level in darkness to the top which is the called the Tower of Hope. On the first level, the Museum proudly states that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" on their massive mural on the first level which in my mind doesn't contradict scripture that all people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). I'll walk through the museum with different take aways that an atheist might, (or other's whose faith background is muslim, jewish, buddhist, hindu, native spiritualists etc). Learning about human rights and the many injustices throughout history through a Christian worldview, it is obvious to me how sin and the choices of sinful men and women, governments and political strongholds have created injustices of many kinds and stripped people of dignity and rights. We must look within our own hearts to see if we have contributed to the injustices in this world.
I pray that as Canada Celebrates 150 years as a nation (Still recognizing that it existed for thousands of years prior to that with our rich indigenous cultural heritage since time immemorial), we will move forward as individuals, families and communities to learn from the past and move forward to the future. We cannot be the nation we are called to be without loving our neighbour as ourselves. How can we love our neighbour if we don't understand basic human rights? If you haven't visited the CHRM yet, I encourage you to do so!