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.
On May 27, 2021, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation released news that the ground-penetrating radar had located 215 unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School in Kamloops, B.C. Over the past year, many more unidentified burials sites have been found at the sites of other former residential schools. The devastating pain and loss of these announcements are shared by all who lost family, friends or community members to Residential Schools.
In deep sorrow, we invite churches to hold a moment of silence to honour the lives of children who were forced to attend the schools, and those who died because of the schools.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada operated eleven Residential Schools at twelve sites. The harm they did to generations of students and their families did not end when they closed; rather, their legacy of trauma continues today. This trauma is not limited to Survivors but is also borne by members of their families and communities, over generations. As a church, we are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused. We know we cannot undo these harms, and that words must be accompanied by meaningful action. In humility and lament, with God’s guidance, we continue to seek healing, working for reconciliation in ways that uphold the dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples.
Additional information about the role of the church in running Residential Schools is available here. You can also learn more about the Honouring the Children Fund, which is for initiatives related to searches at the sites of former Residential Schools operated by the PCC and healing for Indigenous communities affected by those schools.
Prayer of Repentance and Lament for Unmarked Graves
Creator God of love and justice,
Comforter of those who mourn,
You created us each for love and relation, and
You love all you have created.
And yet the land on which we live and worship
has not always borne testimony to love and relation.
It also attests to unmarked graves at the sites of former Residential Schools,
in which so many of your churches participated;
It bears witness to Indigenous children, each precious and loved,
who never were able to return to their families from the schools where they were taken.
We acknowledge the actions of your church and our sinful complicity
in running residential schools where children died.
We repent for the pain, trauma and ongoing harm we have caused,
and ask for the will and wisdom to act to end that harm.
We pray for healing for all the children’s families and communities,
for whom news of any unmarked graves found brings fresh wounds.
we ask that you
bring healing in the communities and families of all
who experienced Residential Schools;
and give comfort and strength for all those grieving loved ones taken.
you call your followers to walk humbly and do justice,
we ask for help for your church to live out repentance and reconciliation,
and to help us hear you calling us to the love that brings healing amidst grief.