As bells rang out across the country during the final week of the#22Days campaign, Anglicans looked to the future with an understanding that the journey towards healing and reconciliation has just begun.
Throughout the week, the ringing of church bells continued to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women, drawing attention from politicians, the media and all Canadians while serving as a call to action.
On June 17, Regina-Wascana MP Ralph Goodale tweeted a photo highlighting bell ringing at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Regina. “Sadly,” he wrote, “govt today voted down a Motion for Inquiry.”
Two days a later, Eagle Feather News—Saskatchewan’s most widely circulated Aboriginal newspaper—published a story on the ringing of bells at St. Paul’s, whose members played a key role in creating the #22Days project. In the article, Diane Campeau, who rang the bell in honour of her murdered brother and sister, praised the church for acknowledging its past mistakes and working to raise awareness of an ongoing issue.
The number of Indigenous women reported missing and murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 has been estimated at either 1,122 or 1,181, varying figures reflected in the number of times each church rang their bells.
Church services on June 21, the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer, saw many churches complete the ringing of their bells, such as St. John the Evangelist in South Lancaster, Ont., which had rang its bells 1,181 times.
In a post on the 22 Days Wall of Commitment, David Clifford of St. John the Evangelist recounted a touching visit the day before by three young girls and their father who sat respectfully and attentively while the bells rang 169 times allotted for that day.
Afterwards, Clifford wrote, the girls “were able to give stunningly clear explanations and voice their understanding of the Residential Schools issues – and all while expressing a desire to never let this happen again.”
He added, “They explained that their teachers had focused on these issues in the classroom – bravo to those teachers out there, for instilling in this group a sensitivity to the issues, a sense of urgency to respond, and a deep respect for survivors of this National tragedy.”
Parishioners at St. Martin’s Anglican Church in North Vancouver, B.C. held a minute of silence to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women and all who continue to suffer from prejudice and racism. The ringing of church bells broke the silence, symbolizing the “end of silence and the beginning of action.”
In a post written on June 18 for the Community website, “For whom the bells toll,” the Very Rev. Mike Sinclair, dean of Qu’Appelle—writing in the space of the Rev. Kyle Norman from the Anglican Parish of Holy Cross in Calgary, Alta.—expressed the feelings of many when he asked what might follow the end of the #22Days campaign.
“We’re in this with our words and our bells,” Sinclair wrote. “Now is the time to give generously of our hearts and our time, and our continued action.”
Visit the Anglican Church of Canada website later this week for details on how church members plan to maintain their commitment to healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples moving forward.
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