Since May, what Indigenous people had been saying for decades became known all across Canada and could no longer be denied: a horrifically large number of mass graves belonging to Indigenous children have been found at residential schools across the country. Since then, we continue to receive ongoing updates of more graves found at other residential schools. Country-wide, we sit in mourning, confronted by the excruciating reality and the tangible proof of the long-term genocide inflicted against Indigenous people.
As a denomination, as a faith community, as individuals, how do we respond to these atrocities?
As an editorial team, when we reflected on our summer issue, we all noted the deep sense of grief we had been sitting with individually since the end of May. Therefore, as a team, we chose to offer a response to this horrific situation by each offering our own lament. Following our lament, you will find resources, some specific to the denomination and other important resources to help with your own journey.
Lament 1 by Jenna Hoff
The juxtaposition of pain and privilege, of brokenness against an illusion of wholeness, haunts us.
You called us to lives of love—you modelled this by surrendering your very life. And yet, hate became our story.
It crushed—and still crushes—precious lives. Many stagger under the weight of generations of injustice, abuse, and maltreatment. Many others swagger from the benefits systemic racism has handed them.
This too applies to ableism* and many other ways humans categorize one above another.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts. Weed out the judgement, superiority, pride, self-advancement, and social climbing that contribute to an inequitable, unjust world and give us hearts of empathy, love, gentleness, humility, and compassion.
* Ableism: discrimination against people with disabilities based on the notion they are inferior to people with typical abilities.
Lament 2 by Elly VanAlten
Oh Lord, how could this happen in the country so many of us love? How could this happen at the bidding of a government that claims to serve the people of this country? How could this happen at the hands of people who claim you as Lord, just as I do? How could this happen to people who are made in your image, just as all people are?
Lord, my heart cries out at the horrors that were inflicted on Indigenous children for so many years at the residential schools, and that has and continues to impact Indigenous people to this day. “Sorry” will never erase the pain and suffering the families experienced as a result of children’s attendance at these schools. Some of them will never recover from the physical, emotional and sexual abuse they suffered there. Lord, I pray that you will put your healing hand on them, so that they know that you love them and consider them your children. Help us who offer this prayer to hear their stories, to be open to walking with them in their painful journey, and to love them and encourage them along the way. Amen.
Lament 3 by Becky Jones
How do I sit with this sadness? I sit with you beside me, holding my sadness.
I sit on the ground, staring at the earth, reminded of all the young children who lost their lives at the hands of those who called themselves your followers. The children lie in the ground, their families grieving their loss, and there has been no justice for these families.
How do I sit, doing nothing, not knowing how to move, how to identify with a faith that allowed the broken the bodies of ones so young, leaving them lost to their families?
Creator God, you must have wept and indeed still weep, for them and their families. We did not see you crying. Now we join you.
You were the one who wept when so many of us sat, doing nothing. No longer.
Teach us how to move forward, how to stand up, how to share in this deep sadness and how to stand with the people and families that have suffered so much loss.
In addition to being the co-editor of our newsletter, Jenna Hoff is a contributor to The Banner. She recently wrote this article which calls us all to bring ourselves before God and take a careful look at our own hearts, attitudes, and beliefs.
The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation has asked all people in Canada to “acquaint themselves” with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and final report(s). CRC ministries, through our Justice and Reconciliation team, will continue the long journey of reconciliation in commitments to the Calls to Action.
Do you want to grow in your reconciliation journey in a robust and appreciative way? Hearts Exchanged is now recruiting participants from across Canada to join other Reformed Christians in this learning and action journey. Learn more in this quick five minute video.
This is a great way to introduce kids to the truths found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
For further information, we encourage you to check out Indigenous Ministries | CRCNA.