My name is Sue.
I am a middle-aged cis woman of European descent and my pronouns are she/her.
I respectfully and gratefully acknowledge that I live and work in the unceded traditional territories of the Sinixt, the Sylix and the Ktunaxa peoples.
Now, if you are anything like I have been you are wondering what the heck is all that about?
What does it matter where my ancestors came from?
What does it matter that I am cis — comfortable in my skin — comfortable living in my assigned gender at birth?
Why do I tell you what my pronouns are?
Why is it becoming more common for people to include an acknowledgement of the Indigenous people who had first claim to the land on which we live and work.
Why do we do this?
What does it matter?
In April I had an opportunity to attend the Revolutionary Love conference online.
Coming out of Middle Collegiate Church in New York City the conference was about creating a truly inclusive society.
Every single one of the fabulous presenters – great minds, authors, and speakers on social justice, racial justice, and working to create a safe and inclusive society – took the time at the very beginning of their presentations to introduce themselves in a similar way.
No one explained it – they simply did it.
I was puzzled at first, then curious, but over two days it became something that just was the way it was.
That’s why we do it.
The more we do it, the more accepted it becomes, and the more people can be who they are and not feel like they need to hide it.
Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.
We ARE different.
It is about making room for our differences in a loving, curious, accepting manner.
We have seen lately that voices in our world use difference as a weapon – pitting one group against another, using fear to divide society so that certain voices can’t be heard challenging the way things are.
When I take the time to introduce myself in this way I am acknowledging who I am and where I come from – but it is not about me.
To claim that I am a person of European descent owns the fact that I am privileged to have been born into and live in a world that is set up to favor European, Christian foreigners like myself.
People I encounter every day have not had that same lived experience.
It makes me curious about their stories, curious about their history, and full of wonder about how we can work together to change the way the world operates.
To acknowledge that I am comfortable in my skin (cis) recognizes that there are people who are not. People who have had to fight to have their journey with gender recognized, supported, and honoured.
Sharing my pronouns means that I recognize and celebrate the diversity around me and take my space as someone who has asked what pronouns work for me so that others know that I will take their pronouns seriously.
It’s awkward, growing at my age.
It is a messy, imperfect, challenging business.
I don’t get it right.
But I would rather fall down trying to make this world better for all of us than hide in my ignorance. I am not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was.
I may not always know how to stand beside others, to hear their voices, to challenge systems, or to celebrate unity… but by God I am willing.
I am determined. I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it, and work with others to make this world home for everyone.
Will we get there?
Not this week.
But we are a movement, and together we are unstoppable.
Come along, who knows what we can accomplish together!
Reverend Susan E. Breisch
Minister/Community Spiritual Companion
Communities in Faith Pastoral Charge Rossland/Trail