I’m sad this week, appalled too, and wondering how to respond.
The news of the unmarked graves of 215 children at a residential school in Kamloops cuts deeply into my privileged white heart. I grew up in Canada and wasn’t taught about First Nations culture or government policy to both assimilate and annihilate through residential schools. But I can’t blame just the educational system. I began to hear the dark story in 1990’s as the Anglican Church made an apology and began raising funds for compensation and healing initiatives, and yet I didn’t inform myself. It was only from 2010 onwards, through Contemplative Fire encouragement and some Companions on the Way I met within our community that I began to learn. I’ve been a slow learner and in that I recognize my own culpability in this dark piece of Canadian history.
This week I’m also pondering Mark 3.20-35 for a reflection in a local church on Sunday. I wrote the sermon several weeks ago and find it so appropriate for today. It’s the story where Jesus’ family and the teachers of the law don’t like him, put all sorts of expectations on him, want him to have particular beliefs. They try to jam him into a box and he simply won’t fit.
When I look back, I see those who colonized Canada doing the same thing; not seeing the indigenous people for who they are, not learning their ways, their faith but only seeing them through their British and French white eyes, with their own expectations and beliefs. And then those of us who followed the first arrivals, perpetuated that seeing or that not-seeing. Sure we can say that’s human nature, that’s the way of empires around the world, but that doesn’t work for me. That doesn’t touch those 215 unnamed children who ended up in an unmarked grave. What were their lives like? What were their final minutes? And we know there are more, scattered across our country, more graves, more unmarked graves with children in them.
I’m grieved that so many of the residential schools were run by churches, staffed by people who claim to be Christian, to follow Jesus. My heart is sad.
How can this be? What are my next steps? What are yours?
Love and prayers
Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Contemplative Fire Canada (Founder)
Companion on The Rivendell Way
Society Member of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation