This Friday, September 30th is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation aka called Orange Shirt Day. The day honours the children who never returned home and Survivors of residential schools, as well as their families and communities.
It is an important time to reflect, remember and acknowledge the experiences of Indigenous peoples across Canada and the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of residential schools as part of the journey of healing and reconciliation. It is important time to pray for Indigenous people and especially for those in the area (or territory) where you live and work.
Listen to how scripture reminds us of God's heart for those who are oppressed:
'You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed
so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.'
All Vineyard Churches are communities called to live out the 'words and works of Jesus'. The 'works' are not only acts of mercy to those in need but they include acts of justice in addressing wrongs and putting things right. This is one of the powerful ways God's Kingdom breaks in!
Our collective prayer is that our words and our actions truly reflect God's heart as we walk the road of reconciliation with Indigenous people.
Source: Concordia University - Murray Sinclair awarded 2022 Loyola Medal
Justice Murray Sinclair, who led Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2009-2015, crucially described reconciliation as 'not being an Indigenous problem but a Canadian responsibility' and it is this truth that prompts all Canadians - and especially the Church in whatever shape and form it takes - to continue the healing journey with Indigenous people together.
HOW CAN YOU AND YOUR CHURCH PARTICIPATE?
Have your whole family, small group, congregation wear Indigenous-designed shirts. Make sure everyone knows why it matters. If you have been unable to purchase a specific Indigenous orange shirt, you can still participate by wearing orange.
Please purchase shirts designed and sold by Indigenous communities as the profits go back into supporting their communities. Don't buy them from Walmart or other companies who are trying to profit off the back of the poor. This is how we begin to live justly and put things right.
REFLECT & PRAY
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was created in 2008 to acknowledge and attend to the deep harm done to Indigenous people through the Indian Residential School system. The completion of the TRC in 2015 (7 years ago) resulted in 94 'calls to action' for all Canadians to participate in the healing journey with Indigenous people. Read them here.
Take time this Friday September 30th with family, friends or your church to reflect and pray on the TRC calls to action for the church as a means to continuing the journey (not just in words) but in deeds towards healing and reconciliation with Indigenous people across Canada.
Take time this Sunday to pray for Indigenous people in your area.
REFLECTING ON THE TRC CALLS TO ACTION FOR THE CHURCH
Read through all these calls to action and the invitation to the church. Pick one (or more) and reflect and pray with your family, friends and your church.
TRC Call to Action # 58
We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church's role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.
Reflect & Pray: The Pope finally came to apologise this year. This was an important step in the continuing journey of healing between Indigenous people and the Church.
Please continue to pray for documents to be released to Indigenous communities that reveal the names and identities of children who died at residential school and never received a proper burial.
TRC Call to Action # 59
We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church's role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.
Reflect & Pray: How is your church or community reflecting on the Church's historical role in colonization, the history and the legacy of residential schools?
It is important to recognise that it is not so much about which Church did what, although specific repentance is necessary, but it is about how Indigenous have a deep distrust of any church and those associated with Jesus. Wouldn't we want that to change?
Pray for opportunities to come alongside Indigenous people in your area. Find out what nations are in your area. Pray for them regularly. Pray for opportunities to connect.
TRC Call to Action # 60
We call upon leaders of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders, Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other religious training centres, to develop and teach curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the history and legacy of residential schools and the roles of the church parties in that system, the history and legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and communities, and the responsibility that churches have to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.
Reflect & Pray: We are often afraid and resist what we do not understand. How can we invite and ask Indigenous people about their love and worship of God? Many Indigenous Christians are reconnecting with the beauty of their culture, their language, their musical instruments, their dancing and realising that God loves who they were made to be! This is a healing journey that we can celebrate and find ways to support!
As leaders in the Vineyard we have a responsibility to support the journey of healing.
Pray and discern ways we can be intentional about learning and receiving the gift of Indigenous people to Non-Indigenous people.
TRC Call to Action # 61
We call upon church parties to the Settlement Agreement, in collaboration with Survivors and representatives of Aboriginal organizations, to establish permanent funding to Aboriginal people for:
1) Community-controlled healing and reconciliation projects.
2) Community-controlled culture- and language-revitalization projects.
3) Community-controlled education and relationship-building projects.
4) Regional dialogues for Indigenous spiritual leaders and youth to discuss Indigenous spirituality, self-determination, and reconciliation.
Reflect & Pray: Are there ways you or your family or your church can support initiatives that help Indigenous youth? Language revitalization? Reconciliation?
Pray and discern the invitation of the Holy Spirit for you personally, your family, and your community.