From the Ambrose Chaplain, The Rev. Terry Fach
From the Ambrose Chaplain, The Rev. Terry Fach:
Last week, it was confirmed that the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School is the burial site of 215 children, of whom only 51 are known and documented. Ambrose University joins with all Canadians in mourning the loss of these children and grieve with the families and communities of the missing children. We stand with First Nations seeking the truth about the missing children. May we honour their lives and those of the survivors and never forget their stories.
The Indian residential schools operated for more over 100 years as a partnership between the Canadian government and major churches, with the last school closing only in 1996. During that time, many Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to these schools that sought to break their ties to their families, communities, and culture.
As we were reminded last week, many spent their entire childhoods in the schools and many died there. At times the mortality rates at some schools exceeded 60 percent. The emotional, physical and sexual abuse suffered by these children has affected nearly every Indigenous family and the effects on communities are still with us today.
June is National Indigenous History Month, when we celebrate the history, heritage and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. On this occasion, and in light of last week’s news, we remind every member of the Ambrose University community of our ongoing commitment to (1) decolonize our campus; (2) design curricula that move us toward new and respectful relationships with Canada’s indigenous peoples; and (3) deepen our treaty relationships.
As we continue to reflect on the lives lost and those forever changed by the injustice of residential schools, I offer this prayer of lament.
Lament: Remembering the Children
God of all peoples, all nations and tribes, whose son Jesus took children in his arms and blessed them:
Today we remember the 215 children
of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
And we remember all the children of all the residential schools—
the murdered and the missing,
the ones whose names we know and the ones whose names we don’t yet know.
We remember their tears, their loneliness, and their fear.
We remember the families—the grandparents left to grieve;
the parents suffering in unyielding silence,
the communities whose bright hopes for the future were snatched away.
Hear our lament
for what was allowed to happen and for what will never be:
For the injustices lived,
the sufferings inflicted,
the tears cried,
the misguided intentions imposed,
and the prejudice and racism
which smothered the sounds and laughter of the forgotten children.
In speaking and hearing and acting upon the truth
strengthen us, as the followers of Christ and as Canadians,
to embody our hope in action, starting today.
Turn our shock and our grief
into right action—action that works for right relations,
action that works for healing and justice,
action that reconciles what is broken
through the power of the Holy Spirit.
These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.