Page 34 - Presbyterian Connection
P. 34

 Healing & Reconciliation Speaker Series in Barrie
 By Laurie Watt, Communications Coordinator, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Barrie, Ont.
In many of our communities and churches, we have territorial ac- knowledgements that often in- clude a phrase about moving for- ward in a spirit of reconciliation and respect.
It is a statement of our commit- ment to acknowledge not only the lands of the Indigenous peoples and their way of life but our com- mitment to understand the trauma caused by our governments’ co- lonialism and our commitment to build a better Canada, together.
At St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Barrie, Ont., we share a city block with Barrie City Hall, and we take Christ’s commandment to share God’s love in our world seriously. As unmarked graves at former Residential Schools con- tinued to dominate the news, we felt called by God to host a series of presentations, open to the com- munity, to further our and others’ efforts to understand the legacy, build respectful relationships and be part of the healing and recon- ciliation that we say we are com- mitted to fostering.
Taking place the fourth Wednesday of April, May and June, the presentations examine our Residential Schools’ legacy,
how we are moving forward and treaties. Lori Ransom, an or- dained Presbyterian elder who now does healing and reconcilia- tion work with the United Church of Canada, helped us understand the context, what happened in Residential Schools and the ef- fects they have had and continue to have on Indigenous individuals, families and communities.
In her role as a Senior Advisor, Church and Interfaith Relations with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, she brought in- sights into the trauma the schools caused and the 94 Calls to Action the TRC recommended. Her inspi- ration comes from the people she has met who shared their experi- ences of deep childhood trauma, including a woman she met in 2007, not long after she became the PCC’s first Healing and Rec- onciliation Program Animator.
“She, like many others I would hear in the years that followed, brought me to tears as she related what a poor mother and grand- mother she had been because of her own experiences at Residen- tial Schools, and she apologized to these children and grandchil- dren as she spoke; one of whom stood beside the Survivor with her arm around her.
“The impact of the Residential Schools, which many these days
are starting to call residential in- stitutions, rather than ‘schools,’ on families and communities for generations was so palpable then and at other times along the way that it can’t help but motivate me to act,” she said.
Lori noted the Residential School story begins in the 1600s in New France, when Indigenous children would board at Jesuit schools. In the 1830s, what we know now as Residential Schools began to open, and in 1886, a federal report noted the aim of the schools was to “transform from the natural condition to that of civilization.”
In her presentation, she pointed out, for example, that children from Sarnia would be sent to a school near Sault Ste. Marie, as “ was recognized kids needed to be away from their parents to learn English or French and Euro- centric traditions.”
Imagine the communities with- out children and what it would feel like. Imagine the worries and pain of missing your children, some of whom never would return and those who did were traumatized, she said at St. Andrew’s Barrie.
She suggested that any one of us can learn more by reading books by Indigenous authors, joining in with local friendship centres or nearby First Nations
Mary Helen Garvin and Lori Ransom.
events or by learning more in the Indigenous Canada course, like that offered by the University of Alberta, online and free of charge.
“The faith of these Survivors that by going on record they could somehow make things better for their children and grandchildren and communities inspires my own faith. I noted several times how these Survivors were not naïve in this hope; they spoke about past inquiries and commissions and reports about Indigenous people and how little had been done to implement recommendations, yet they carried on with a hope that it was critically important to share their stories and advocate for change,” said Lori.
“They said this, often, sur- rounded by their loved ones and it was clear that first and fore- most their concern was for their loved ones’ future and the future of their people. And yes, my own faith and understanding of what is to be Christian, convicts me that churches very much have a role to play in, and a responsibility to support, the work of healing and
Lori Ransom and the Rev. Joanne Lee.
The series continued May 25
with the Rev. Margaret Mullin and the Rev. Linda Patton-Cowie, along with Barrie Native Friend- ship Centre Elder Advisor Ernes- tine Baldwin and wraps up June 22 on talks about treaties with presentations by Indigenous law- yer Roger Townshend and treaty researcher Dan Shaule.
“We want to be part of the heal- ing. It begins with fostering a re- lationship based on respect,” said St. Andrew’s Barrie’s Rev. Joanne Lee.
Watch the recordings on St. Andrew’s Barrie’s YouTube chan- nel or join us in person at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern) on June 22.
  Residential Schools Timeline
1600s: The first Indigenous boarding schools run by Jesuits opened
1830s: Churches opened Residential Schools
1870s: Churches participated in the government-run Residential School system 1931: The height of activity, with 80 Residential Schools
Prior to 1925, The Presbyterian Church in Canada ran 11 schools.
After that, the PCC retained responsibility for the school in Birtle, Manitoba, and the Cecilia Jeffrey School, which was initially located at Shoal Lake, then later in Kenora.
Other Facts
There were 130 different school locations
80% were west of Ontario
Among the causes of deaths at Residential Schools were respiratory diseases, fires, accidents and suicides
1986 & 1998: United Church of Canada
1993: Anglican Church of Canada
1994: The Presbyterian Church in Canada
2022: Pope Francis, to an Indigenous delegation in Rome; other Roman Catholic entities had apologized, including the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, 1991; Canadian Catholic Women Religious, 2009; Jesuit Fathers of Upper Canada, 2013.

   32   33   34   35   36