As Association of First Nations former chief Phil Fontaine told CTV News “We’re all in this together.”
He was in St. Peter’s Square earlier this week, after meeting with the pope about the legacy of residential schools.
We are, indeed, all in this together.
We are also on the journey of healing and reconciliation, together.
The place where Fontaine is a beautiful history-filled square.
Where he is coming from is a place of trauma, of secrecy, of pain. The legacy of residential schools is a painful one which includes hundreds of unmarked graves.
It includes memories of not just those who attended the schools, but of their parents and siblings, aunts and uncles. These family members were left behind as loved ones came back damaged or never came back at all. It is heart-breaking to consider the years that this occurred, even as recently as the late 1960s, when children were “scooped” away.
As one of the churches that ran residential schools, the Presbyterian Church in Canada is complicit in the efforts to colonize peoples who lived their lives on the land and extinguish their language and culture. Along with other churches, we encouraged the government to ban Indigenous spiritual practices through which Indigenous peoples experienced and worshipped the Creator. We confess our cultural arrogance and our failure to represent our Saviour, who extends love and grace to people, wherever they are on their human journey. We are sorry for the horrific experiences some endured at schools. More details about the church’s confession can be found at https://presbyterian.ca/healing/
Healing begins with a genuine expression of regret, of being sorry, of wanting to change. Our Indigenous communities can teach us more about restorative justice, which begins with that genuine sorrow. Indigenous Canada offers a course that helps us understand more about this. Learn more about it at https://www.ualberta.ca/admissions-programs/online-courses/indigenous-canada/index.html
At St. Andrew’s, we are committed to moving forward with respect as we work towards healing and living and working together. This includes helping others understand the legacy left by residential schools and learning from Indigenous teachers.
Our spring speaker series focuses on healing and reconciliation and not only discusses our role in residential schools, but we will also be learning about treaties and what we can do to build relationships with our Indigenous neighbours.
Our guest speakers include a Barrie Native Friendship Centre elder, an Indigenous advocate who has worked on land claims and a Presbyterian elder who serves on the Aboriginal Education Council of Centennial College.
The presentations occur on April 27, May 25 and June 22 – all Wednesdays, evenings at 7 p.m. The series will occur at St. Andrew’s and also be recorded and posted to our YouTube channel.
“Central to all of what has transpired over the years, in addition to abuse in residential schools, is the land,” said Fontaine, “the land taken from us.”
Our spring speaker series is part of our work to build understanding and heal.
The speakers – many Indigenous – occur the fourth Wednesday of April, May and June at 7 p.m. Join us as we journey together.