This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16,18)
Orange Shirt Day was originally started in 2013 to bring awareness about the residential school system in Canada and enable people to better understand the resulting ongoing impact on indigenous communities for more than a century. The Canadian Government recently announced September 30 is Canada's newest holiday and it may be our most important one yet. It has been named the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
We want to urge all our Vineyard churches to participate in this new holiday as communities who know love is an active word and solidarity is demonstrated by coming alongside those who have suffered unspeakable harm. This is a first step towards acknowledging the truth of what has happened in Canada as we journey down the long road towards reconciliation. It is also especially important for us to participate together after the reopening of wounds due to the discovery of unmarked burial sites at many residential schools across Canada this year.
Hopefully, we are all aware that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found the residential school system disrupted parent's ability to pass on their indigenous languages to their children, leading to 70% of Canada's Aboriginal languages being classified as endangered. The Commission also found that the deliberately weak education offered at residential schools created a poorly educated indigenous population in Canada. This in turn impacted the incomes those students could earn as adults, and subsequently compromised the educational achievement of their children and grandchildren, who were frequently raised in low-income homes. The Commission also found sexual and physical abuse perpetrated at the schools created life-long trauma in residential school survivors. This in turn led to subsequent trauma and abuse, which was often passed down to children and grandchildren, and continues to create victims of the residential school system to this day.
Earlier this year, Orange Shirt Day T-shirts were given to David and Anita Ruis, our national directors. They were designed and made by the Gitxsan First Nation in BC. David wore his on an International call with Vineyard National Directors around the globe.
How can you and your church participate?
Wear Orange on Orange Shirt Day (September 30) and commit to doing ONE thing, as a family or with friends or even on your own, to acknowledge this important day.
Some ideas: Take time to read or reread the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; read a report from Truth & Reconciliation National Reports; pray; reach out to an Indigenous friend you know.
SUNDAY GATHERINGS ON SEPTEMBER 26, 2021
Orange Shirt Day does not fall on a Sunday so dedicate some time the Sunday before (September 26) to encourage others to be ready for Orange Shirt Day and to acknowledge and pray for Indigenous people all across Canada. Why not wear Orange on Sunday, September 26 as a sign of our collective commitment to stand with those who have been oppressed and suffered injustice as followers of Jesus, who 'laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.'18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16,18).
We want to ensure our children and grandchildren don't just hear about Orange Shirt Day in school but also experience the priorities of justice and reconciliation embodied in our church communities as we follow Jesus.
CONTINUE TO BE INFORMED
Steps to responding as Congregations and People of faith: Find out what steps you could take by visiting KAIROS. Set up in 2015 they exist to unite Canadian churches and religious organizations in a faithful ecumenical response to the call to "do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). 'Responding to Christ by engaging in social transformation, KAIROS empowers the people of God and is empowered by them to live out our faith in action for justice and peace, joining with those of goodwill in Canada and around the world.'
United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: This is a must read for all of us. If you haven't read it or need to re-read it again, get better acquainted with why the United Nations took the important and necessary step to make a declaration on the rights of Indigenous People.
Truth & Reconciliation National Reports: There are important documents and research that can help us know what is happening. For example, please read 'Where are the children buried?' by Dr. Scott Hamilton, Dept. of Anthropology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario)
Truth & Reconciliation Government website: Some very helpful summaries of the purpose of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as videos and other resources.
Calls to Action for all Canadians: How are we as Canadians, who love God and love the people God has made, responding both Individually and communally to the 'calls to action'? Find out how much you are aware of and where your voice can help the call to participation for transformation.
*Image: Grade 11 student, Shayne Hommy, winner of the 2021 Orange Shirt Day Design.