On Friday the bodies of 215 children were discovered during a search of the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops B.C. On behalf of the London District Catholic School Board, we extend our sincere condolences to the victims and their families.
As we struggle with this tragic news, I share the following advice paraphrased from Ray John, the Indigenous Cultural Advisor for LDCSB: Students, you and your parents are not responsible for this tragedy that happened. It is ok and expected to be sad but know that our duty to the memory of these children is to acknowledge the reality and then to turn towards hope and the future.
We acknowledge that the history of residential schools is not news to us. We know of their very sad legacy. The London District Catholic School Board has faithfully and consciously honoured Orange Shirt Day for this very reason. May the news of these past days re-affirm our commitment to the larger truth and reconciliation journey. As was shared in the Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada “Now that we know about residential schools and their legacy, what do we do about it?”
Concrete steps staff and students can do to move toward hope can include wearing an orange shirt to class one day this week or every day this week or displaying an orange shirt somewhere inside or outside your home.
The London District Catholic School Board will be lowering all flags to half mast in order to honour the victims and show support for this country’s ongoing journey of truth and reconciliation with the Indigenous people of this land.
Finally, in order to turn away from despair and turn toward hope, I share this video of hope from Ray John:
The children who passed away in that Kamloops residential school will be properly honoured by our honest attempt to learn not just the story of their tragedy, but also the story of the greatness of their people who have lived on this land for thousands of years. Tuesday is June 1. June is National Indigenous History Month. June 21 is National Indigenous Solidarity Day. There is no better time than the present.
The following is a message Ray John sent to all of us this past weekend in response to this tragic event:
“Our approach will always be of one spirit, one mind, one body. I love the that we are "active". My community is flying the orange shirts in solidarity with Kamloops. I’m ready to answer any questions from our Board to help ease any pain that this may have brought on. Thank you all for the support in this. I could not have not done this without you.”
Prayer for Reconciliation
Holy One, Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, of story and of song, of heartbeat and of tears of bodies, souls, voices, and all relations: you are the God of all truth and the way of reconciliation. Uphold with your love and compassion all who open their lives in the sacred sharing of their stories breathe in us that grace to trust in your loving forgiveness, that we may face our histories with courage; touch us through the holy gift of story that those who speak and those who listen may behold your own redeeming presence, guide us with holy wisdom to enter through the gates of remorse that our feet may walk gently and firmly on the way of justice and healing.