This week could be a historic one for Indigenous children in Canada. The Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, has called an emergency meeting on Indigenous child welfare, comparing the current situation to the horrors of the residential school system.
Why is this so urgent?
- Canada removes Indigenous kids from their families at a rate that is one of the highest in the world.
- Per student, per year, First Nations schools on reserve are funded 30-50% less than provincially-run schools.
- Canada has been racially discriminating against 165,000 First Nations children by providing inadequate access to social services, according to a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling. After three non-compliance orders from the Tribunal, Canada still has not changed its ways.
- Indigenous people in Canada are far more likely to end their lives by suicide than other people in Canada. In some regions, Inuit people are 25 times more likely to commit suicide than other Canadians.
Christian Reformed members and congregations listened to the courageous stories of residential school survivors at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings.
This could be a turning point for Indigenous children.
You’ve participated in KAIROS Blanket Exercises, opening your hearts to a fuller version of Canada’s history—and to the ways that this “history” of injustice isn’t just a past reality.
As a church in Canada, we formally committed to continuing to work for equitable and culturally-appropriate education for Indigenous kids at the closing of the TRC. We (the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue) have been advocating for that Indigenous education reform since 2011.
Now is the moment to raise our voices, both in prayer and advocacy, for a Canada where Indigenous children finally have equal opportunities to flourish.
Now is the moment to raise our voices, both in prayer and advocacy, for a Canada where Indigenous children finally have equal opportunities to flourish. This could be a turning point for Indigenous children.
As Cindy Blackstock says, “Reconciliation means not saying sorry twice.”
Creator God, we stand in a moment of hope.
We have prayed for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have learned the hard history of residential schools—and yet, we still see signs in Canada today that Indigenous children are not being treated as full image-bearers of you.
We cry out with the prophets for justice.
Thank you for this moment of possibility, brought about by the stirring of your Spirit in many hearts.
We pray that the hearts of all involved would be united in their concern for the flourishing of Indigenous children and youth. May that concern be the centre, and nothing else.
Lord God, may your justice flow like a mighty river through the meeting rooms where officials gather to discuss Indigenous children’s welfare this week! May a yearning for justice and reconciliation bubble up in our churches and in our own hearts!
The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, an Indigenous-led organization, has been leading the way on advocacy for First Nations kids. Join us in speaking up with them for equity for First Nations kids.
Bring your church together
You can help your church to speak up for Indigenous kids. We’ve supplied a letter that you can use for an offering of letters at your church—just as we offer our financial wealth to God through monetary offerings, we can offer our voices to God to work towards justice for our neighbours. We’ve included instructions in our Justice and Hope Sunday resources (see the bottom panel)—all you need is a printer, some pens, and a little planning.
Or, if it works better for your church, you can simply share the online action alert above through your church’s Facebook group, website, bulletin, or email newsletter. There are many ways to participate, and we’d be happy to talk you through any details that you have questions about.
This article originally appeared on Do Justice, our blog.