There are no words to describe what we feel in our hearts, as we face, once again, the fear and pain of all that has happened. We are not surprised by the discovery of the children’s remains, but the strength of our feelings now has become overwhelming. We are reliving childhood feelings of helplessness, made even larger by our now adult understanding of the things that were intended for us by government and churches.
We understand that the children whose remains have been discovered—and those who are yet to be discovered—are speaking to the heart of every individual, every community, and every institution in this Land. The children are witnesses to the betrayal, by government and churches, of the values and ideals that they say are their essence, foundation, and purpose. In this betrayal, colonization became a genocidal reality.
The good life for this Land and its peoples will not be achieved without truth and justice. Truth and justice will only appear on the way of repentance. The reality that is represented by the remains of the children can no longer be denied or dismissed. The healing that will lead to the good life on this Land will come from a real and dedicated turn from the deceit of colonization to the restoration of Indigenous rights and authority. It is impossible to separate the future well-being of all that is called Canada from Indigenous justice.
The first step must be involvement and support for the pursuit of the truth of the Indian Residential Schools and Day Schools. This work will make clear the fullness of the need for healing for non-Indigenous peoples and Indigenous peoples alike. Beyond that, there must be a focused and full commitment towards enabling Indigenous justice and well-being. Such a commitment will acknowledge and make possible the full authority of Indigenous Peoples across this Land. All who truly hear the witness of the children will show this commitment in every aspect of their on-going life on this Land.
A Statement from the Primate: Residential Schools, Burial sites, and the Anglican Church of Canada
Over the past several months the revelations of unmarked burial sites at residential schools have added new pain to the history of residential schools. The Anglican Church of Canada shares in that legacy as it administered some thirty-six schools, over more than one hundred years, in partnership with the government. We know there are sites at some Anglican residential institutions with unmarked graves or where burial records are incomplete.
Our hearts ache for the children who did not return home and for their families. We did not sufficiently protect the children entrusted to our care from colonial policies and attitudes that denigrated their human dignity. We did not live into our own profession of faith to love neighbour as self. The repentance needed includes our commitment to work with families and communities to identify unmarked burials and missing children through further research in our archives.
We are committed to a long road of reconciliation, listening to Indigenous elders, survivors and leaders for their guidance. Our work has included acknowledgement of the painful legacy through apologies for our role and for spiritual harm caused (1993 & 2019); participation and full co-operation with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in sharing archival materials related to residential schools; developing a Healing Fund (since 1992) to financially support local, community-led projects that assist in healing of language loss, cultural abuses and other forms of oppression; and supporting Indigenous leadership as they develop a self-governing Indigenous Church.
Our commitment to the work of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission includes a commitment to the 94 Calls to Action through advocacy for their full implementation in our Church and in the whole of Canada.
We cannot change the choices and actions of the past. We can change the present by listening deeply to the truth about the past so that it will shed light to make a different future possible.
Interested in keeping up-to-date on news, opinion, events and resources from the Anglican Church of Canada? Sign up for our email alerts .