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Another announcement was made today. More than 160 undocumented and unmarked graves were discovered on Penelakut Island in the Gulf islands, which was also once home to the Kuper Island Residential School.

We mourn with the Indigenous people of Canada and acknowledge the terrible wrongs committed against their people and their culture.

We grieve the taking of their children against their will. The suffering and loss of their children, their culture, their way of life.

We repent the role the Church played, complicit with the government, in perpetrating these wrongs in the name of God. We strongly believe this is not the way of Jesus, not the way of the true God.

As Mennonite Brethren of Canada, we believe that following Jesus means reconciliation is the centre of our work. As God sent Jesus, His son, into the world to reconcile all things to Himself, addressing brokenness and injustice, so we too are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation.

May we more fully live up to this true calling.

Prayer of Lament by Rev. Maggie McLeod, daughter of a File Hills School Survivor

O God, we come before you with pain in our hearts as we remember the children of the Indian Residential Schools. We remember how they were plucked up from their homes by a system of arrogance that denied a good way of life. Their tears, their hunger, their loneliness and their fear is not forgotten. The shame that was taught, lingers yet. The pain that was inflicted on their bodies remains.

We remember the parents, the aunties; the uncles; the grandmas and grandpas left to grieve the empty places in their home and their communities. Mothers were left with tear stained aprons; fathers suffered in unyielding silence; How was it they were expected to carry on, having lost their joy, their purpose? And how was it that their community could continue to come together to celebrate life and move together toward a bright future, when their future is gone?

How long will it take to strengthen family, homes, and spirits? How long will it take to heal the memories? Who must we be, and what must we do to restore integrity and dignity to your world? 

God of all great transformation, in our lament we cry out to you.

God of all healing power, in our pain we call your name.

God of all life, in our hope we come before you in humble prayer.

And we pray that one day this world, your world, will be a place where children are no longer harmed and will never again be removed from a mother’s embrace, or a father’s helping hand.

We pray in the name of Jesus, your Son, who showed us a way to your Kingdom come on earth. All my relations, Amen.

Taken from the work of Maggie McLeod, in Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network’s Mamow-Be-Mo-TayTah: Let us Walk Together (Toronto, ON: Canadian Council of Churches Press, 2009), 107-109.