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Archive for June, 2012

This past weekend, I had the most amazing experience. Saskatoon hosted the fourth national gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and I was privileged to take part and play a role in it. For those of you unfamiliar with the TRC, it is part of a large project to acknowledge for the historical record the massive cultural upheaval of the residential school system.
While the government of Canada initiated this system as part of its ongoing agenda of assimilation, the churches willingly took their part in running the schools. While there were many good people who served in the schools as teachers, nurses, and clergy, the overall effect of the schools was nightmarish and horribly wrong. Not only was there physical and sexual abuse, but there was also the deliberate attempt to decimate the language and culture of many First Nations by stealing their children and breaking them down. Empires throughout the world, and throughout history, have used this strategy. It is sickening and wrong, and it is to the shame of the churches that they ended up being such a key part of this system.
So part of my role, as an Anglican priest at the gathering, was to be available to hear the stories of the survivors, and to offer apology on behalf of the church. I was also privileged, on behalf of KAIROS (our ecumenical church social and ecological justice group) to be part of an “Expression of Reconciliation”, placing a small symbol into the “Bentwood Box” (which reminded me so much of the Ark of the Covenant!)
All in all, it was an exhausting but utterly uplifting experience for me. I went in somewhat skeptical, knowing the depth and force of racism and apathy in our dominant society. But I was so moved by the courage and the resilience of the survivors of the schools. I was honoured to be present there among them.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not and end, but a beginning of this process of national healing. I have faith that the work accomplished in the spirit world through this event will echo out into our nation and our churches, and especially thoughout Aboriginal communities, in ways beyond anything we can ask or imagine. It was truly a spiritual event.
For the TRC, thanks be to the Creator.

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