For 116 years, thousands of Aboriginal children in Alberta were sent to Indian Residential Schools funded by the federal government and run by the churches. They were taken from their families and communities in order to be stripped of language, cultural identity and traditions. There were more Indian Residential Schools in Alberta than in any other province.
There is an emerging and compelling desire to put the events of the past behind us so that we can work towards a stronger and healthier future. The truth telling and reconciliation process as part of an overall holistic and comprehensive response to the Indian Residential School legacy is a sincere indication and acknowledgement of the injustices and harms experienced by Aboriginal people and the need for continued healing. This is a profound commitment to establishing new relationships embedded in mutual recognition and respect that will forge a brighter future. The truth of our common experiences will help set our spirits free and pave the way to reconciliation.
The Truth and Reconciliation Response Circle at SSUC is involved in …
- Organizing Blanket Exercises
- Supporting the “Have a Heart” campaign sponsored the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada to raise concerns about inadequacies and inequities in services for indigenous children and families. About 150 members of the congregation signed 4 large hearts which were sent to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs along with letters supporting the campaign to our local MLA and MP.
- Creating and posting banners showing the “Calls to Action” that relate to the United Church along with comments about how the church has responded to these calls.
- Supporting the postcard campaign for the “Kairos Winds of Change Petition” concerning Bill C-262 to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. About 100 postcards were signed by members of the congregation and forwarded to our MPs and various cabinet members. (Kairos is an ecumenical program administered by the United Church.)
- Holding an Information session regarding “Project Naming,” a federal government project to name indigenous peoples who have never been identified in government pictures.
We honor Orange Shirt Day to remember survivors of residential schools.
Members of this circle have been involved in the Edmonton-area “Moving Forward with Reconciliation” group associated with the United Church, including their monthly film series, and with “Living into Right Relationship”.
SSUC has established relationships with the Kokom (Grandmother) Kisewatisowin Society, a group of retired professional Aboriginal women led by Cree Elder Elsie Paul.
We celebrate National Aboriginal Day each June and share a Minute for Reconciliation once a month during the Sunday Spiritual Gathering.
Here is the November 15, 2015 ReDress video from SSUC.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Find out more at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission web page.
Prayer Shawls and Blankets
In preparation for the National TRC Event, Southminster-Steinhauer United Church is participating in an ongoing Prayer Shawl Project. We are knitting, crocheting, sewing or quilting shawls or lap blankets to give to the survivors of the residential schools at the national gathering. To participate, please create a shawl (roughly 30″x60″) or a lap blanket (36″ x 36″ to 42″ x 60″) and drop them at SSUC .
Watch a recent SSUC Spiritual Gathering for National Aboriginal Day