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Why is the 1994 Confession Important to the Church Today?
    By Katharine Sisk, Justice Ministries
The year 2019 marks the 25th an- niversary of the church’s Confes- sion—to God and to Indigenous people—regarding its role in run- ning residential schools. Many Pres- byterians will be familiar with two schools run by the PCC and named in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement: Bir tle Resi- dential School in western Mani- toba and Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School near Kenora, Ont.
One aspect of the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commis- sion of Canada (TRC) was to create a public record of the schools and
Get Involved
Throughout 2019, Presbyterians are invited and encouraged to lift up the Confession: in prayer, in study, in mission and ministry. Write a sermon. Share a reflection. Are you ar tistic? Share an original picture/song/expression. Are you
the experiences of students: that students’ stories may be acknowl- edged and honoured after being unheard for so long. Acknowledging the PCC’s full history is important— the church ran 11 schools. They are named here so we do not forget this legacy. This is important for both accountability and for healing.
In Christ, we can find the right re- lationship with God, and with each other. In Christ, we are called to a ministry of healing and reconcili- ation (2 Cor. 5:17–20). Our 1994 Confession is a covenantal com- mitment to this ministry. But words are only as powerful as the mind, spirit and behaviours that animate
a teacher? Work with children and adults to find out why they think the Confession is important today. Are you an organizer? Plan a conver- sation with members of your con- gregation. Whatever your activities may be, share it with the church.
them in each one of us. Senator Murray Sinclair, former chair of the TRC, said: “It is in our daily con- versations and interactions that our success as a nation in forg- ing a better place will ultimately be measured. It is what we say to and about each other in public and in private that we need to look at changing.”
Presbyterians are walking toward reconciliation. To walk in a good way, we must build ongoing rela- tionships of mutual respect and love of neighbour between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. This is how we can live out the covenant of our Confession.
Four sermons will be published in each issue of the Presbyterian Connection in 2019. Other reflec- tions, stories and submissions will be online. In 2019, share with the church how you are walking toward reconciliation.
Phil Fontaine, then Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, is presented with the PCC’s Confession in 1994 by the Rev. Dr. George Vais, Moderator of the 1994 General Assembly.
Phil Fontaine, former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, at the 2014 General Assembly.
   The PCC Operated 11 Schools
Details extracted from a “Brief Administrative History of the Residential Schools & the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s Healing and Reconciliation Efforts” by the PCC Archives, Sept. 2010
Birtle Residential School began as a day school in 1884 and was converted to a boarding/resi- dential school in December 1888. Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School opened in 1902 at Shoal Lake, 45 miles from Kenora. A new school site was built closer to Kenora and opened in 1929. The PCC ran both schools until they were transferred to the federal government in 1969. Following Church Union in 1925, responsibility for the schools remained uncertain until 1927 when respon- sibilities for the schools were resumed by the PCC.
Ahousaht Residential School, B.C.—a day school opened in 1896 that took boarders in 1903 when it was classified as a residential school; Alberni Residential School, B.C.—a day school opened in 1890 and became a boarding/industrial school in December 1892; File Hills Residential School, Sask., opened in 1888; Portage la Prairie Residential School, Man., opened in 1886; Round Lake Residential School, Sask., opened in 1884. Each of these schools continued to oper- ate under The United Church of Canada after union in 1925.
Stoney Plain Residential School, Alta., opened in 1889. The school was closed in 1893 and the mission was transferred to the Methodist Church in 1894.
Crowstand Residential School, Sask., opened in 1889 and closed in 1915 when a new day school called Cote Indian School opened in its place in 1916. Muscowpetung (later known as “Lakesend”) Residential School, Sask., opened in 1888. The school site was moved in 1890. It closed in June 1894 but was reopened briefly in 1895 before closing in 1896. Regina Industrial School, Sask., opened as an Industrial School in 1891 and closed in 1910.

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