(*posted June 17, 2021) Three weeks ago, we were horrified to hear the news that on May 27th, 2021 the remains of 215 indigenous children were found in an unmarked grave at the site of the former Kamloops Residential School. We mourn with First Nation, Inuit and Mètis Communities as yet another layer of the historic evil perpetrated upon the Indigenous Peoples across this land through the Residential School system of Canada is revealed. We acknowledge that this unmarked grave was not an isolated event, and will continue to lament as more are found at other residential schools.
As fellow Canadians, but also as a church community – a people who bear the name of Jesus Christ – we acknowledge this as a wake-up call to our nation, our society and the Church. A necessary wake up call, shaking us from our slumber, complicity and complacency regarding the long walk and hard work of justice in our own country and our own hearts. This news again highlights our responsibilities as peacemakers and ambassadors of Christ, particularly as we recognize that these horrors occurred in God’s name.
These children were precious in the eyes of God. Their lives and the gifts that they had to offer were stolen from their communities and their families. We must lament this irreplaceable loss. We serve a God who weeps with those who have been weeping for a very long time. And this summons us to listen, to weep, and not turn away. Reading the Truth and Reconciliation Report is one important step we can take to start listening and truly face this ugly reality.
We acknowledge that knowing this truth is uncomfortable, and remaining present in these conversations is painful; yet for so many this is not merely uncomfortable, but traumatic. For residential school survivors and those affected, emotional and crisis referral services are available by calling the Indian Residential School Survivors Society’s 24-Hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.
May the justice and love of our God lead us in repentance.