I have no words for the horrific news this week that the remains of 215 children have been discovered on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C.
By no means does this imply we simply move on, remaining unaware of this horrific history, remaining unaffected and without grieving. As Christians who call Canada home, we must re-learn our history and attend to the ugly truths of our past. We must listen to the voices of residential school survivors. We must learn the principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We must beg God to awaken our souls so that we can adequately repent. We must pursue reconciliation, no matter how difficult and challenging.
So first, let’s listen. Below are two reflections on this week’s news, from indigenous professor at Acadia Divinity School, Dr. Danny Zacharias, and second a poem from rom Cheryl Bear, from Nadleh Whut’en First Nation, an Indigenous singer/song-writer, associate professor at Regent College in Vancouver, BC, and currently serving as Strategic Associate as the Indigenous Relations Specialist with Canadian Baptist Ministries.
Second, take the time and do the work to learn our history in Canada.
• visit Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada HERE
• Reconciliation Proclamation – The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and Indigenous Leaders have worked together and called for 7 new commitments in the wake of our silence and inactivity. CLICK HERE
• Richard Twiss – Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys
• Thomas King – The Inconvenient Indian
• Ray Aldred – The Land is Sacred. (you can download the PDF from the link HERE along with other good material)
Third, reflect, confess and repent – CLICK HERE to read a series of devotions from the CRCNA
Lord, have mercy.
Danny Zacharias (Facebook, May 31, 2021 @ 11:25 am)
They were taught about Jesus feeding the 5,000, then they were fed rotting food and oatmeal mixed with sawdust
The priests lived celibate to “be like Jesus”, then raped little boys and girls
They taught about how Jesus healed and made people whole, and then beat the children
They were taught about Pentecost and how the Holy Spirit enabled the church to speak in many languages, and then they were punished for speaking their native language
They were taught Jesus’ teaching to love God and love your neighbour.
Why weren’t these children treated as neighbours?
Willfully blind to their own hypocrisy, the church wed themselves to the state as agents of assimilation. As they preached “justification by faith,” they lived out a justification for colonization.
As an Indigenous follower of Jesus, I cling to the Christ even as I rage against his followers and institutions that claim his name, past and present, who commit acts and atrocities utterly foreign to his teachings. If you claim to follow a homeless man yet glory in a society that makes the wealthy even wealthier — you are a hypocrite. If you claim to follow a brown-skinned man yet discriminate against coloured people — you are a hypocrite. If you say you follow the one who said to love your enemy and yet embrace war and violence — you are a hypocrite. If you claim to worship the one who himself had to flee his homeland for his own safety and yet you dislike immigrants — you are a hypocrite. And yes, we are all hypocrites to some degree. But Jesus spared no judgment against religious hypocrites of his day, those who said one thing and did another, in the name of God.
How could people who claim to follow and worship a brown-skinned Indigenous man at the same time try to kill the Indian in the child.
Kill the Indian in the child.
Kill the Indian child.
Had Jesus been born in Canada, he would have been rounded up too. For these 215 children, representative of many more whose names we do not know, this school was a death camp. A place of pain. A place of abuse, sadness, hunger, and loneliness. A ministry of the church.
Everyone I know, regardless of their ethnicity, is appalled by this story, and they should be. But I remind myself of this, and you should remind yourself too: this is another of many waves that have crashed upon Indigenous peoples of Canada, and there will be more to come. My heartbreak and your heartbreak is something that has been felt and continues to be felt for multiple generations of First Nations people. This is not ancient history, but living reality.
Cheryl Bear (Facebook, May 31, 2021 @ 6:59pm)
take your time
sit with the grief
sit with her
and let her weep
let her crawl
way too early
and out of bed
way too late
let her cancel
all the plans
and just sit
stroke her hair
and tell her,
will get, no
even if they
are only won
in court battles
or through shaming
(shame, shame on them)
all of this work
was not in vain
exposed the truth
everyone can see
it took all of us
to get here,
now it will take
all of us
to get there
so our grandbabies
can truly be free
and can have
… words spoken on a tear soaked day, still reeling from the news and praying for our courageous and powerful Elders, our Residential School Survivors – for my late mom, my Aunties and Uncles, grandparents, for all our relations.