In a few days, the second national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will begin. People of all ages—indigenous and non-indigenous, leaders and members of communities, churches, organizations and government, from Canada and around the world—will gather in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories.
From June 27 to July 1, the experiences of adults who attended residential schools as children will be heard. The stories of their children will also be heard as the intergenerational impact of this dark period in Canadian history lives on. The theme of the Inuvik event is “Courage—a national journey home” and we hope that this occasion will be one of homecoming in every way.
We will hear church leaders acknowledge the role of Roman Catholic and Anglican churches in running the schools and hostels in agreement with the then Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources. We will hear about the historic relationship between the two churches, and of ongoing commitments to work for healing and reconciliation. We will see photos and displays, and learn about the students and staff members who experienced life at the individual schools and hostels–11 of which were run by the Anglican Church–through educational programs and various resources.
The peoples of the North will teach us about their culture and traditions, and demonstrate the diversity of their languages. In response, we will present copies of the 1993 Anglican Apology in Gwich’in, Inuvialuktun, and Inuktitut languages and make copies of the apology available to all.
On July 1, a birthday celebration will take place for all the students who missed these childhood gatherings and feasts during the residential school years. Cupcakes and cards contributed by Anglican delegates will help mark the occasion.
In addition, we will receive with gratitude the gracious hospitality of community members and leaders such as the Rev. Capt. David Parsons, Verna Firth and others from the Church of the Ascension.
We invite you to follow this TRC event (the second of seven national events that will take place over the next four years) at anglicanjournal.com as well as at other news media, including the website of the Anglican Church of Canada www.anglican.ca/trc (the page is under development) and the website of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald invite you to reflect on what reconciliation means to them. You can view Archbishop Hiltz’ message on video here and Bishop MacDonald’s message here.
Above all, we invite everyone to pray for the second national TRC event-that God’s Spirit will assist us all on the journey of healing and reconciliation. We especially lift up Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk of the diocese of the Arctic as he ministers to family and community members in Salluit, a northern Inuit community in Nunavik, Quebec, where they are mourning the recent and tragic loss of three men.
Creator God, from you every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. You have rooted and grounded us in your covenant love, and empowered us by your Spirit to speak the truth in love, and to walk in your way towards justice and wholeness.
Mercifully grant that your people, journeying together in partnership, may be strengthened and guided to help one another to grow into the full stature of Christ, who is our light and our life.
Henriette Thompson is coordinator of ecumenical, interfaith and government relations and Anglican coordinator, Office of the Primate, Anglican Church of Canada, for the TRC national event.