Tomorrow, September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, or Orange Shirt Day. On this day we collectively remember the pain and suffering and many losses of children in the residential schools, mourn for the lost children and seek justice for the many who live with the pain of their past. Residential Schools were a significant part of colonization and attempts to erase indigenous identity and culture. They were structured on and reflected the idea that European colonial powers had a right to appropriate lands, possessions and even people, and to treat indigenous people as undeserving of rights. The idea that European Christians were superior to non-Christian people was set out in a series of 15th century papal bulls (decrees) which are called the Doctrine of Discovery.
I share with you a video service of reflection and prayer from the Anglican Church of Canada: Every Child Matters: Grace will lead them Home - https://youtu.be/M2HwyXb6y_Q
And from our United Church this prayer:
we are grateful that you came to us as a child,
who grew out of a community that nurtured, supported, and taught you the way of your ancestors.
You have asked us to do the same:
to treat every child as we would treat you,
to love every person as you have loved us.
We are grateful that
your power is rooted in love, not force;
your strength is displayed through community, not might.
You have taught us to work toward a better world where all of creation thrives,
and where every child matters.
On this Orange Shirt Day,
we remember Phyllis Webstad as a child,
and the stolen childhood of all the children forcibly raised by church-run institutions, known as residential schools.
We lament how these institutions
stole from children the opportunity to grow in a safe and loving environment,
stole from Elders the opportunity to share their teachings and wisdom with younger
stole from communities the opportunity to live intergenerationally.
We mourn the children who never made it home,
the communities that were destroyed,
the broken hearts,
the stories never shared, and
the shattered relationships.
We ask that you provide
comfort to all who are seeking healing and who daily wrestle with the ongoing harmful legacy of
these colonial institutions,
strength to all who name how colonial powers have harmed us as peoples and as a nation;
often at great personal cost, and
courage to all who are working toward reconciliation.
As you grew, you reminded us to always welcome and care for children.
We remember your children today.
We lament and acknowledge the sinful ways that colonial powers tried to eradicate Indigenous cultures within Canada,
breaking Indigenous families,
removing children from their homes while destroying communities.
And we pray for healing,
so that we who live together in this country
can also work together to build a better future
where all children are cherished, beloved, and given what they need to thrive.
So that we may treat all children as we would treat you, our Beloved.
May it be so.