Time for Reflection in Canada

Photo L Meyer

3. Reconciliation is a process of healing relationships that requires public truth sharing, apology, and commemoration that acknowledge and redress past harms.

6. All Canadians, as Treaty peoples, share responsibility for establishing and maintaining mutually respectful relationships.

TRC Final Report, Volume 6

Heartbreaking headlines. The discovery of a mass burial site of 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School sent shockwaves across Canada last week. People placed tiny shoes on the steps of many provincial legislative buildings, gathered outside of churches to express profound sadness and grief. It seems surreal that so many children were not afforded the respect and decency of ceremonial burial with their family and communities.

And how did they die in the first place? Why were their families allowed to believe they had gone missing? Why were records never kept or shared? So many questions that many indigenous people have been seeking answers to for decades. Their voices ignored, dismissed, discounted up until now so at least they’re being heard.

Since then crisis lines to support residential school survivors and their families have been inundated. Traditional ceremonies held across this land and politicians from all walks have expressed profound sadness coupled with shame. Calls upon the Vatican for the Pope to issue a formal apology on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, which ran many residential schools, are growing. Louder.

During the hearings held by the Truth and Reconciliation, many survivors shared stories about children who died, went missing, and whose families never learned what had happened to their children. Children who were forcibly taken from them in the first place. It should be unimaginable that these tragedies occurred but we should be asking why there has never been an impetus to investigate what really happened to so many missing children.

This discovery further reveals large segments of our society who complain that this was all in the past and “they” should just get over it. That there are many who never read the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action. How is it possible that all of this work, the pain of survivor’s disclosure, the thoughtful 94 calls to actions have been left to collect dust. Again. This just seems to demonstrate a collective callousness. As Canadians we owe it to the children and to ourselves to reflect and move forward from this in a good way.

My heart hurts thinking about these children taken away from their families causing a pain best left unimagined only to be buried in unknown mass graves. We can do better, we can be better.

Take a moment to help us honour these children through silence, reflection, or prayer.

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