Motorcycles and their leather-clad riders might not immediately suggest reconciliation and understanding. But the 30 bikers who participated in the Turtle Island Pre-Ride on August 26 hoped to create that connection.
The ride, which started in Aylmer and took participants on a two-hour tour of southern Ontario, was organized to raise awareness of next summer’s cross-Canada Turtle Island Ride.
Turtle Island Pre-Ride bikers begin their two-hour ride through southern Ontario.
Turtle Island is a name many First Nations people use for North America. The aim of both rides is to encourage discussion and celebrate the progress being made in communication between First Nations and the Christian Reformed Church.
Ride organizers and motorcycle enthusiasts Dirk Miedema, pastor of Aylmer CRC, and Bruce Adema, former director of Canadian Ministries for the CRC, are excited about the work being done in Aboriginal ministries and believe more can be done. “The Ride, we believe, will move us further down the road,” said Adema in his blog.
The day before the ride, Joseph Gilbert, a pastor, evangelist, and former chief of Walpole Island First Nation, spoke to a crowd of about 60 people about the relationship between First Nations and other North Americans. “He made some provocative comments,” said Miedema, “but he was polite too. He was not out to alienate us but to open further discussion.”
The day of the ride, Gilbert led the Aylmer CRC worship service. After a shared meal, the riders roared off on their bikes for their trip through Port Burwell, Port Bruce, Port Stanley, and then back to Aylmer.
In 2013, participants in the Turtle Island Ride will cross Canada, stopping in various First Nations communities and at CRC Aboriginal ministry centres to listen to the people and make connections. This smaller, lead-up event “was a step ahead for our community, in terms of becoming aware of how our First Nations feel and think about their relationship with the rest of Canada,” concluded Miedema.