The Courier

As news came on May 28, 2021, that the remains of 215 children were found in undocumented and unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School, we entered into a national time of mourning for these children, their families, and their communities.

Gatherings were held around sacred fires across the country. Prayers were sung and spoken. Church bells were rung. Orange ribbons were tied on branches and fences. Shoes and teddy bears were laid out in memorials. Candles were lit and flags were lowered as a sign of respect.

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc along with the National Turtle Lodge Council of Elders and Knowledge Keepers and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation called for a National Day of Prayer on Sunday, June 6th. It was a time when faith communities from across the country came together to offer a collective prayer for those who were lost to and survived residential schools in Canada.

So I humbly offer up this prayer:

Great Creator,

God of healing and compassion,

May our eyes and ears be open,

to the whispers of these children, sacred lives, full of potential, cut short after they were taken from their homes and families to be placed in residential schools. Taught to feel shame for their culture, identity and language. Never to be held or comforted by their loved ones, even at the end of their lives.

May our eyes and ears be open,

to the stories of the survivors. Those who came home but were never the same. May we listen to their words, their experiences and know we owe them the debt of reconciliation.

May our eyes and ears be open,

to the lamentations of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc as they grapple with the horrific news of 215 children discovered buried on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School.

May our eyes and ears be open,

to the cries of numerous indigenous communities across this country, mourning their children who were taken. Homes and communities made too quiet from the loss of children’s voices and laughter. Communities wounded by the scars of unanswered questions and generational trauma.

May our eyes and ears be open,

to the role we played in the residential school system. To the process of reconciliation and our part to play in it. To stopping and listening to those who have kept searching and guarding the stories of these children.

May our eyes and ears be open,

to transformation, so our outpouring of grief and shock create momentum for change. That we may move forward, in right relations, pursuing healing and justice for all.

In the spirit of love, healing and truth, these things we pray. Amen.

The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line is available for former students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour support line: 1-866 925-4419.

Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate help to all Indigenous people across Canada at 1-855-242-3310.

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