I was & am shocked and profoundly saddened by the horrifying discovery of the remains of at least 215 children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. When the operation of residential schools was delegated by the federal government to several Christian faith-based groups, there were many failures in fulfilling Christ's mission of bringing the good news of the kingdom of God and helping the oppressed, including failures of the Catholic Church.
The presence of the graves of these innocent ones sheds light on a clear failure of those responsible in not embracing the Gospel values of love, mercy, justice and compassion, and for forgetting their commitment to respect the dignity of all people. We as a church must continue to learn from these failings and work with Indigenous communities towards the healing called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I visited the memorial at the Spirit Catcher on the Barrie waterfront on Sunday, May 30th, and prayed, asking God to bring comfort to the families of the deceased and all survivors of the residential school system. As a parish we continue to pray for the families of these children and survivors and I commit ourselves to playing a constructive role in the journey towards healing and reconciliation.
In looking forward – I invite parishioners to purchase NEW shoes and Boots that would fit school age children from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and drop these off at the Parish Hall whenever the church is open. You may need to use Curb side pick up, or delivery, or wait until “Non Essential” items – like shoes and boots stores are open. These will be sent to our Partner Diocese in Northern Canada, for distribution among indigenous peoples, in indigenous communities.