Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop of the Province of British Columbia and Yukon about discovery at mission school

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26 January 2022

Regarding the discovery at the former St Joseph’s Mission 

Dear People of the Territory,

It is with deep sadness we hear that ground penetrating radar has again confirmed what we already knew, that there are bodies of children in unmarked graves at the site of the former St. Joseph’s residential school. We know that this announcement brings further trauma to Indigenous communities, especially survivors and intergenerational survivors of residential schools. We lament with them, and we pray for strength and courage for them, as they receive and process this.

I also pray that we in the non-Indigenous community continue to feel outrage at the atrocities that were done against Indigenous peoples in Canadian church-run government institutions, and that our outrage fuels action. We renew our commitment to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to address not just the wrongs of the past, but racism in our own hearts and in our social systems today. I urge each parish to look through the 94 Calls to Action, especially those directed to the Church parties (59-61), and to discuss in your parish how you might take action.

I invite you to post the prayer for Remembering the Children (see attached) outside your church and to pray it in your Sunday prayers. The apologies of 1993 and 2019 are available on the national website. You may want to listen again to the Apology for Spiritual Harm from Primate Fred Hiltz, given at General Synod 2019 to post it on your church bulletin board, and to study it in your parish.

Please pray for the Pastoral Elders of the Territory; for all Indigenous leaders; for the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP) and our Territory ACIP representative John Haugen; for Archbishop Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Archbishop; for the Rev. JoAnn Hinter and the parish of St. Peter’s Williams Lake; for the whole community of Williams Lake; for the community of Lytton and the Rev. Angus Muir; for the survivors and intergenerational survivors of St. George’s residential school in Lytton; and for community workers and suicide prevention
workers.

As Primate Linda Nicholls said regarding the childrens’ graves at the Kamloops residential school found in the Spring of 2021: “These are days to listen to the stories of Indigenous people – to acknowledge that our Church shared in the perpetrating of this pain – to recommit to the hard work of truth-telling and reconciliation.”

I pray that we have the courage to be present to this work that is ours, to follow our Lord, the suffering servant who was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53), who bears our burdens and invites us to bear each other’s. May God deepen our compassion, kindness, and our outrage, turning our outrage to action. 

Yours in Christ,

The Most Rev. Lynne McNaughton
Metropolitan