26 January 2022
Dear People of the Territory,
It is with deep sadness we hear that again ground penetrating radar has confirmed what we already knew, that there are bodies of children in unmarked graves at the site of the former St. Joseph's Residential school in Williams Lake. We know this announcement brings further trauma to Indigenous communities, especially survivors and intergenerational survivors of residential schools.
We lament with them, and we pray for strength and courage for them as they receive and process this.
I also pray that we in the non-Indigenous community continue to feel outrage at the atrocities that were done against Indigenous peoples in church-run Canadian government institutions, and that our outrage fuels action. We renew our commitment to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation, to address not just the wrongs of the past, but racism in our own hearts and in our social systems today. I urge each parish to look through the 94 Calls to action, especially those directed to the Church parties (59-61), and to discuss in your parish how you might take action.
I invite you to post the prayer for Remembering the Children (see below) outside your church and to pray it in your Sunday prayers. The apologies of 1993 and 2019 are available on the national website. (see: https://www.anglican.ca/tr/apology/) . You may want to listen again to the Apology for Spiritual Harm from Primate Fred Hiltz, given at General Synod 2019, https://www.anglican.ca/news/an-apology-for-spiritual-harm/30024511/ , to post it on your church bulletin board, and to study it in your parish.
Please pray for the Pastoral Elders of the Territory, for all Indigenous leaders, for the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) and for John Haugen our Territory representative on ACIP; for Archbishop Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Archbishop; for the Rev. Jo Ann Hinter and the parish of St. Peter's Williams Lake, for the whole community of Williams Lake; for the community of Lytton and the Rev. Angus Muir, for the survivors and intergenerational survivors of St. George's Residential school in Lytton, for community workers and suicide prevention workers.
As Primate Linda Nicholls said regarding the children’s graves at the Kamloops Residential school found in the Spring of 2021: "These are days to listen to the stories of Indigenous people – to acknowledge that our Church shared in the perpetrating of this pain – to recommit to the hard work of truth-telling and reconciliation. "
I pray that we have the courage to be present to this work that is ours, to follow our Lord, the suffering servant, who was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53), who bears our burdens and invites us to bear each others. May God deepen our compassion, kindness, and our outrage, turning our outrage to action.
Yours in Christ
The Most Rev. Lynne McNaughton
God of our Ancestors,
who holds the spirits of our grandmothers and grandfathers and the spirits of our grandchildren,
Remembering the Children,
we now pledge ourselves to speak the Truth,
and with our hearts and our souls to act upon the Truth we have heard
of the injustices lived,
of the sufferings inflicted,
of the tears cried,
of the misguided intentions imposed,
and of the power of prejudice and racism
which were allowed to smother the sounds and laughter
of the forgotten children.
Hear our cries of lament for what was allowed to happen,
and for what will never be.
In speaking and hearing and acting upon the Truth
may we as individuals and as a nation
meet the hope of a new beginning.
Great Creator God
who desires that all creation live in harmony and peace,
Remembering the Children
we dare to dream
of a Path of Reconciliation where apology from the heart leads to healing of the heart
and the chance of restoring the circle,
where justice walks with all,
where respect leads to true partnership,
where the power to change comes from each heart.
Hear our prayer of hope,
and guide this country of Canada on a new and different path.