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Name Change At IFC

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”*

But what if your name carries the lingering stench of European explorers so limited in vision that they mistook North America for a part of Asia? What if your name was not a name at all, but a label imposed by colonial overseers, without your input or consent? This is the smell of “indian” for many Anishinaabe.

In celebrating the 40th Anniversary of IFC, the Board has decided to change our name from Indian to Indigenous Family Centre. This change allows us to retain “IFC”, by which many know us, yet to leave behind a word that we now recognize as inappropriate.

In·dig·e·nous is not an easy word for some people. It is pronounced “inˈdijənəs” (click here to hear pronunciation) and according to Webster’s dictionary it means, “originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native.” In choosing it the Board’s intention is to honour Anishinaabe as the original people’s of this land.

Speaking your name is the only requirement when participating in a sharing circle. The Elders teach that when you say your name, Creator knows you are present. This reminds us that God has a relationship with each of us. The ancient Hebrew’s understood this too, as the prophet Isaiah assured the people, “The God who created you, O Israel, says: Don’t be afraid … I have called you by your name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43). The same theme is repeated when John baptizes Jesus in the Jordan. The heavens declare, “This is my beloved … and I am wonderfully pleased”. (Matthew 3:17)

We pray we can live up to our new name: that a radical hospitality will ‘occur naturally’ so people will speak and hear their name with dignity. Amen

*William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

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