"Canada is celebrating the 150th year of Confederation but far too many of our children and youth cannot even celebrate their own lives. This National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits is a reminder that much work needs to be done to end poverty and despair. When our youth are able to see hope for the future then all Canadians will be able to celebrate. This will be true reconciliation." –Chief Isadore Day
The Assembly of First Nations has called for a day of prayer and ceremony this Friday, March 17 in response to the suicide crisis in Indigenous communities. According to the most recent estimates, Indigenous youth are about 5 to 6 times more likely to commit suicide than non-Indigenous youth. Indigenous leaders point to several factors, including an underfunded healthcare system and the profoundly damaging legacy of residential schools and colonization. Health Canada too has identified notable gaps in health care, especially mental health services, for Indigenous youth. This situation challenges Canada and Canadian churches to live up to our treaty commitments with Indigenous people and to the standard of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (see especially article 21.1).
The CRC’s Canadian Aboriginal Ministry Committee invites you to pray this prayer on March 17, or during a worship service in March, and to continue in prayer for Indigenous youth and their communities.
Creator God, we cry out! We pray for and stand with the Indigenous youth who see no hope for the future, whose precious lives have been darkened by evils both seen and unseen: funding discrimination that makes their schools and hospitals inadequate to meet their needs, the mark of residential schools and colonization on their families and communities, the racism they face.
Reconciling Christ, we thank you for Indigenous communities. We thank you for the unique reflection of your image that they represent. We praise you for their resilience and strength. We pray that you would comfort them and raise them up on wings like eagles. We pray that they would have allies ready to stand alongside them.
Creator Spirit, we pray for non-Indigenous Canadians. We pray for eyes to see, ears to hear, mouths to speak to our elected representatives for justice, hands ready to do the hard work of reconciliation. We pray that the scales of racism would fall from their eyes so that we can truly see each other as your precious children. Amen.