As followers of Jesus, our baptism calls us to many things. At one point in our baptismal liturgy, the candidate is asked, “will you persevere in resisting evil and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.” The response is, “I will, with God’s help.”
This is important because it demonstrates that we must challenge evil, even when it is in ourselves, our churches and society. And that is certainly the case with our historic and current relationship with the Indigenous peoples of this land.
It is now 3 weeks since the news of the bodies of the children that were discovered at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Children that were forcibly removed from their homes in a policy that was meant to kill profound, rich and diverse practices, languages and ways of life, no matter the (de)human(izing) cost. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
What to do. It may seem overwhelming, sometimes it feels overwhelming for me too. However, there are things we can do. Small acts with great love.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a start.
- Pray. We are people of prayer. It matters. It makes a difference. Pray for those who are angry, broken, and grieving. Pray for healing. Pray for the little children. Pray for the transformation of our church, our society, our systems and ourselves – for justice and truth, God’s Kingdom to reign. Pray for repentance. June 21st is National Indigenous Day of Prayer in the Anglican Church of Canada, so pray for the flourishing of Indigenous people, particularly for the Squamish and Lil’wat Nations.
- Learn. This is one of the most important things we can do. Learn about residential schools, learn about racism. Read the report and calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). June is National Indigenous History Month and June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples’ day, it is a perfect opportunity. There are podcasts, webinars, social media accounts, books, movies and articles. If you want any resources, you can ask me, or the local library is also a great resource! Make sure to share resources and what you learn with your family, friends and neighbours.
- Give. Support indigenous businesses, organizations and individuals. St. John’s parish council has given some money to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society. The T’kemlups te Secwepemc is also collecting donations. The Anglican Foundation has a healing fund that supports local, community-led healing projects as a response to the ongoing legacy of residential schools. There are many options. Reparations and redistribution of resources is vital – our faith calls us to give what we have to those in need and those who we have wronged.
- Advocate. Write to our elected officials and church leaders. Call them to fully implement, prioritize and fund the calls to action of the TRC, the Inquiry into MMIW and UNDRIP. Amplify the voices of Indigenous people. Check in and keep those in power accountable. Six years after the TRC, very few of the calls to action have been completed. This includes our own church. St. John’s parish council has called for a plan to stay engaged. Make sure we follow through.
- Remember. The news cycle is going to move on from this. It will be easy to put this out of mind (again), because it is so uncomfortable, because it is easier to not remember. Truth, reconciliation, justice, healing, transformation is a process and deserves our active and ongoing engagement.
Choose one or two things. I believe in you. Next week, next month try another one or two. Tell a friend (tell me!) what you will do to keep accountable. These are seeds of God Kingdom, God’s dream for the world. Let us say with one heart and voice, “we will with God’s help!”
Thanks be to God!
TRC Calls to Action
TRC Executive Summary
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Indian Residential School Survivor Society
T’kemlups te Secwepemc
E-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
Anglican Foundation Healing Fund
Indigenous Ministries Resources of the Anglican Church of Canada