CRC offers Expression of Reconciliation
The Christian Reformed Church offered a formal Expression of Reconciliation at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) Saskatchewan National Event in Saskatoon on June 22. A booklet of the art series “Kisemanito Pakinitasuwin – The Creator’s Sacrifice” was placed in the TRC’s Bentwood Box as a public expression of the CRC’s commitment to the journey of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
As event MC Stan Wesley stated, “the Expressions are received in ceremony, as sacred gifts to the TRC. We hope that these Expressions will serve to inspire all of us Canadians to contribute to the journey of healing and reconciliation in all our spheres of influence.”
Members of Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Saskatoon and CRC staff who had traveled to Saskatoon for the National Event stood in front of the stage as Rev. Bruce Adema (CRC Director of Canadian Ministries) read the following statement:
Commissioners, Elders and all present,
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I represent the Christian Reformed Churches in Canada and consider it a profound responsibility and honour to express our commitment to the Journey of Reconciliation – to walking with all of you here and so many other Indigenous People and Communities in Canada. Our church does not have a direct history of running Residential Schools in Canada. However, as members of the body of Christ in Canada we confess that the sins of assimilation and paternalism in Indian Residential Schools, and in wider government policy, are ours as the Christian Reformed Church. We are deeply sorry and pledge to walk the journey of reconciliation and healing with you.
In this, our first Expression of Reconciliation we offer a small gift; a book that describes the paintings in the series Kisemanito Pakitinasuwin – the Creator’s Sacrifice. This series of paintings by Missinippi-Ethiniwak Cree Artist Ovide Bighetty was commissioned by The Indian Metis Christian Fellowship in Regina – a long term ministry of our churches. We were honoured that the first stop of the “reForming Relationships Tour”, a national tour of this artwork, was here at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. It is our prayer that Ovide’s beautiful depiction of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus – using Indigenous symbols and imagery – will help bring people together on the road to reconciliation.
This art also testifies to the presence of the Creator’s truth and beauty in Indigenous Culture. It reminds us that the journey of faith, healing and reconciliation is one of sharing and mutual respect. The church and the nation of Canada are poorer because we refused to acknowledge the Creator’s truth and way as revealed to Indigenous people. We are grateful that the Creator has sustained your will to protect your culture, language and ceremonies. As we –together- heal and reconcile we eagerly look forward to the ever deepening contribution of you the Indigenous people to our shared lives on this land. We pray expectantly that Kisê-manitow will guide our mutual journey to healing, justice and reconciliation.
May our children and grandchildren and the generations yet to come celebrate the steps we take together today, tomorrow and in the years to come, as children of the Creator. All my relations.
Hay-Hay, Mîkwêc, Merci, Thank you.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is tasked with learning and recording the truth of what happened in Indian Residential Schools, by witnessing the testimony of residential school survivors, staff, and others who have been impacted either directly or by the legacy of residential schools.
Indian Residential Schools operated in Canada from the 1870s until the last school closed in 1996. During this time, the federal government removed Indigenous children from their homes and communities, often against their parents’ wishes, and placed them in these church-run boarding schools. In most cases, the children were not allowed to speak their own languages or participate in traditional cultural activities. While some report having positive experiences at the schools, many Indigenous people suffered from the impoverished conditions and the alienation from family and friends, and from emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Through its work, the TRC is engaging all Canadians, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, in the journey of healing, reconciliation and building new relationships. For more information about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, visit www.trc.ca.
Click here for pictures from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Saskatchewan National Event.