The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available for any former residential school students and others needing support. That help can be accessed at 1-866-925-4419.
We grieve with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation, who has just released news that the unidentified graves of 215 children have been found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C. The devastating pain and loss this news triggers are not isolated to Kamloops, but is shared by all who lost family, friends or community members to Indian Residential Schools. So many Indigenous children never came home from the schools where they were forcibly taken, and the weight of the trauma that loss has wreaked in Indigenous communities, in which the church shared a large role, is still causing intense harm today.
In humility, the church calls for a time of prayer and lament to honour the lives of those children whose graves were just found and for all family, friends and communities who have lost loved ones through the Indian Residential School system—for whom this news opens fresh wounds. We also call for a time of reflection and recommitment to reconciliation. As we approach the month of June, which is National Indigenous History Month, we encourage all church members to reflect on the harmful history in which we have been involved, and from that reflection seek renewed ways to work for healing and reconciliation with Indigenous people.
Creator God of love and justice, Comforter of those who mourn,
We have learned of more Indigenous children lost, more children who never were able to return to their families from schools they should never have been forced to attend in the first place. This news is devastating. We pray first for healing for the children’s families and communities, who are met again today with pain no one should ever have to bear.
We also acknowledge the actions of your church, our complicity in running residential schools and taking children like these, who were just found, from their families. We repent for the pain and ongoing harm we have caused, and ask for the will and wisdom to act to end that harm. We have asked for forgiveness and committed to work for healing and reconciliation. But we recognize that for many, that change came too late.
Comforting God, we pray for healing in the communities and families of all who experienced residential schools, comfort for all those grieving, and strength for all to pursue reconciliation.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada operated 11 residential schools and, in addition to the trauma of being forcibly taken from their homes, families, and communities, students faced abuse, neglect, non-consensual experimentation, increased illness and death. The church has confessed its role in running the schools and is seeking a path of reconciliation with Indigenous people (see this web page for the Confession, and a study guide to work through it.) But the trauma those schools caused for individuals, families and communities continues to significantly impact Indigenous people today. As a church, we are called to repentance and to action.