September 30, 2022 marks the second National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, when we pause to recognize the inter-generational harm residential schools caused to Indigenous families and communities, and to honour those affected by this injustice. Friday is also Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots commemoration of children forced to leave their families to attend residential schools.
The visits and apologies by both the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury in the past few months remind us of the tragic role churches in Canada have had in the residential school system. We are sobered by the ongoing discoveries of unmarked graves on the grounds of these schools. And we know that we still have much to do in responding to the Truth and Reconcillation Commission's 94 calls to action.
How can we as Christians, who believe in a God that reconciles us to himself and to one another, respond these calls to action? We can start with deepening our understanding – listening to a different history, then allowing what we learn move us to faithful reflection and into action. As part of our Campus Ministry's commitment to anti-racism and reconciliation, we hope the Blanket Exercise will provide a helpful step on that journey.
The KAIROS Blanket Exercise builds understanding about our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada – a history often not taught in schools. Using Indigenous methodologies, you will be actively involved as you step onto blankets that represent the land, and into the role of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The workshop engages both mind and heart in understanding our shared history together.
Facilitators Laura-Lee Campbell and Cindy Stover will lead us through the exercise, as well as a discussion of our experience of it afterwards. Laura-Lee, also known as Aabidanokii, has Métis roots from the Ojibwe Crane Clan, and serves as a lay minister in the Presbyterian Church. Cindy is the Justice Mobilizer for the Christian Reformed Church in Canada.
KAIROS is a movement of Indigenous, settler and newcomer peoples committed to ecological justice and human rights, where people of faith work together for change. KAIROS brings together 10 churches and religious organizations in a faithful ecumenical response to the call to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). For 25 years KAIROS has led thousands of blanket exercises with the leadership of Indigenous Elders and facilitators. The script has been regularly updated to reflect current events.
We hope you will join us for this significant experience as we learn more about this part of Canada's history. The Blanket Exercise connects at both an intellectual and emotional level, and I was very moved by the experience when we did it in the past at GCF. Feel free to wear orange on Thurs evening, in anticipation of Orange Shirt Day on Friday. We have also provided a list of a few events and resources that you might consider for honouring the National Day of Truth and Reconcillation.
Living in Hope,
The following are some details and logistics for our meeting on Thursday:
We are meeting on the main floor of the Toronto School of Theology building (47 Queen's Park E). Enter by the main doors on Queen's Park at the corner of St Joseph St.
In order to meet as safely as possible, we have developed covid-19 safety protocols. We encourage you to read through the document, but please note the following highlights:
- you are required to wear a mask during our meetings
- we need proof of vaccination
Eating dinner together as part of GCF is a much-loved tradition, and we are eating inside with enough space to distance between households/bubbles.
Can I attend virtually?
Sorry, no zoom option available for this week.