A Power to Heal.
Do you remember the movie, Field of Dreams? In the end, over a makeshift baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa, the protagonist, Ray Kinsella, has a chance to heal a broken relationship with his late-father. The simple childhood pastime of playing catch to ease the regret of never having the chance to reconcile their estranged relationship before the elder's passing.
Throwing the ball back and forth and back and forth is a right of passage for many and a genuine bonding moment. In this case, the resolution and the healing come when Ray is able to play catch with the spirit of his father on this baseball diamond that he built. It meant that everything is right between them... and that is the symbolism of playing catch, isn't it?! I trust to throw you a ball and that you will catch it and throw it back. When you think about it, it really is a trust exercise. When done with a mentor or guiding figure, it also tells a child that they are important enough to spend time with.
In that sense, this fall softball tournament put on by the Kenora Chiefs Advisory and supported by the Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, was a bonding moment. It was relationship-building. It was leadership acting to show that their children are important. It was life promotion. It brought young people from across 4 First Nations communities together to celebrate life and to play.
Seeing children play and have the most genuine of smiles on their faces is a universal sign that everything – if even for a moment – is right in this world. Seeing Indigenous children coming together to play, be excited and have fun, particularly, in the shadow of the wrongs of residential schools – including the many Indigenous children who never had the chance to return home – is all the more vital. Supporting Indigenous community leaders to make this happen, given the many systemic barriers they have had to overcome, is perhaps a small step towards reconciling this relationship. But just like the tiny and simplistic gesture of playing catch, it is symbolic of the willingness that each has for the other to make things right. For the only measurable sign that we are working our way to true reconciliation is to see more and more Indigenous children playing, smiling, and genuinely thriving every day.
Perhaps one day, our focus on building reconciliation will bring with it what a baseball field can bring, the power to heal a broken relationship.
photography: Lee Hon Bong for Jays Care Foundation
words: Lee Hon Bong