Reflections on Truth & Reconciliation

There are moments when God speaks to us in powerful ways that challenge our assumptions or maybe just shake us up a bit. The discovery of the unmarked grave of 215 children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops has been one of those moments.

Many of us have been grieving with the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation as we read and pray about this horrible discovery and perhaps we wonder, how is God’s Spirit moving in this time. Is it a time of reckoning for Canada with past crimes against innocent children? Is it a time to pay close attention to the Tribal peoples of Canada and acknowledge their painful experiences with colonial Europeans? In light of these questions we will be sharing various sources and reflections to help our church family pray and respond to the hurt and history of our First Nations community.  

God calls us, as the prophet Micah says to “do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly” (Micah 6:8).  We are reminded by current events that this verse is not a warm sentiment but a command from the living Lord. May God’s Spirit help us to continue to grieve and listen but may we also bring healing and hope, where and when we can.  

Art from our Community | Doug Wiebe

These beautiful pieces come to us courtesy of Doug Wiebe. Because he says it better than we ever could, here he is to tell us a bit more about them:

“These are 4 pieces I did as a disciplined prayer for families of children who perished at residential schools. Their style of artistic interpretation incorporates the sacred aspect of all creation, which they were forbidden to do. I wanted to do it for them, to say it is good, and to say that they are good, and that I want them to teach me. Christ our healer … for the deep and horrendous wounds we as the church have inflicted on others in the name of Jesus.”  

Who Was Here Before Me? is an ever-developing website dedicated to mapping the territories of Canada’s First Nations peoples. As we celebrate our nation’s 154th birthday, we encourage you to take a moment to engage with this interactive map and learn more about your local Indigenous territories and languages. 

"The Prince of Peace Smokes a Peace Pipe"

By Dr. Jon Coutts: Professor of Theology at Ambrose and member of Southview

Peace and justice are never perfect in this world. There are quite simply too many variables in the irretrievable past, the complicated present, and the unknown future to make things absolutely right again. For Christians the activity of reconciliation is not a replacement for Christ, but a witness to the Prince of Peace. Jesus said the peacemakers would be called children of God. And yet in this case Christians can by and large only contribute to this by way of corporate repentance.” 

First Nations Alliance Churches of Canada

Statement on Kamloops Indian Residential School

My name is Howard Jolly, I am the Director of the First Nations Alliance Churches of Canada (FNACC).

FNACC deeply grieves the discovery of 215 children’s bodies on the site of the former Kamloops Residential School in B.C. Our hearts go out to the families, the communities of these children, and to all First Nations people across Canada. To consider what these children, their parents, and their communities endured is overwhelming. We lament the loss of these children and the loss of their families and relatives. To the families and people of the 215 we want you to know that we weep with you and for you.

Our desire is to honour the ‘215’. I went to the Horden Hall Residential School in Moose Factory Ontario for 6-plus years. My siblings and my dad attended the same Residential School.

The Residential School system is a permanent stain on Canada. As a First Nations entity, the FNACC are committed to ‘Truth and Reconciliation’. Jesus calls His followers to be ministers of reconciliation.

This statement respectfully focuses on the 215. We believe Jesus loves little children. In His earthly ministry He desired their presence. He longed to hold them when they were alone and now holds them to close to His heart. He upholds their cause and innocence. We believe these 215 children are with Him.

Howard Jolly
Director, First Nations Alliance Churches of Canada

A Call to Responsibility: Rev. Dr. Ray Aldred

“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister.  But if they won’t listen…” (Matt. 18:15-16) 

The Indigenous peoples of Canada, for the sake of reconciliation, have been telling us for generations how we have sinned against them. In this video Rev. Dr. Ray Aldred shares his experiences and the history of the sins committed against the Indigenous peoples through the lens of Matthew 18. 

A Prayer of Corporate Repentance

An appropriate first step for us to take in response to the Call to Take Responsibility is to confess corporately. As the president of The Alliance Canada, David Hearn, wrote, “We acknowledge the blindness and institutionalized racism of our past and we are committed to work toward a better future. As a church, we own our sins of the past and repent of this failure—yes, even generations later—and commit to representing Jesus better now and in the future. 

So please join us in this acknowledgement and confession as we seek to walk the road of reconciliation together. 

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