Growing up, Peta-Gay Roberts had a passion for music and dreamed of one day having a band.
In 2010, that dream came true when she along with her husband, Gerard Roberts, created an Indigenous worship band called OKAMA.
"OKAMA is a Taino word meaning listen or hear", Peta-Gay explained. "When I had that dream, it wasn't particularly an Indigenous band, because, at that time, I didn't know about my Indigenous heritage. I just knew I loved all things native. I didn't know why until I was in my 20s."
For Peta-Gay and Gerard being a part of an Indigenous worship band has so much meaning.
"Canada's been learning more about residential schools. It was a way of saying that God loves you, but he does not like you because of your words, your language, your songs, your dances. You need to get rid of those things and become this new creature," Gerard explained. "When we read scripture, that's not what we are seeing, that's not our understanding."
"For us, the way we feel is that every culture has things in it that can be redeemed. And some things cannot be redeemed because they are from the dark side," said Peta-Gay. "We have to allow the creator to decide what we can redeem and what we cannot redeem. That's not for somebody from the outside who has no idea about the culture to come and say what God accepts and what God does not accept. It's up to the people and God to speak to them."
"We are part of that contextual movement that God has created us the way he has created us, for a reason and a purpose. Not only that, he likes us and he likes our culture," said Peta-Gay.
The Roberts say, when it comes to the church in Canada and reconciliation, we still have a long ways to go.
"The church in Canada, the church in North America, I feel is founded on an air of superiority and judgementalism," said Peta-Gay. "I feel the foundation of the Church needs to be looked at starting from the root of it because I feel the fruit comes from the root, and the root is not a good one. We need to come together, come to the table, talk and get to know one another."
"We talk about reconciliation, but how can you reconcile something that has never been dealt with? We need to get to know one another again," Peta-Gay explained. "If we just listen to one another and allow each other to speak freely, then we'll get to know one another. It's important just to listen and hear, and that's OKAMA."
Today on Connections, Peta-Gay and Gerard Roberts share why they formed the band and how we as the church can do a better job when it comes to reconciliation.