Crossroads Policy Board unanimously decided to take action in drafting a letter to our local Member of Parliament, the Hon. Carla Qualtrough. This letter was sent on Friday, June 4, a week after the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
In the letter, we humbly acknowledge our denomination’s participation in this evil, and urge the Government of Canada to press on toward justice for Indigenous peoples, understanding that healing is not possible until the truth is faced, and reparations are made.
Read the letter below, and please consider writing a similar letter to your own Member of Parliament, as requested by Indigenous leaders in the United Church of Canada.
Letter to the Hon. Carla Qualtrough
June 4, 2021
Dear Minister Qualtrough,
We are writing with humility as members of the United Church of Canada, a denomination that participated fully with the Government of Canada in the establishment of Indian Residential Schools. A denomination that lost its Gospel way in cultural accommodation to a racist and colonial agenda, and actively propagated cultural genocide on our Indigenous siblings. We fully expect that new discoveries will be made on the sites of other (and including United Church-run) Indian Residential Schools.
We are writing to urge the Government of Canada to address the call from Indigenous organizations to implement laws to protect Indigenous burial sites. We implore you to heed their voices.
Further, we ask that the Government of Canada provide financial support for all burial (re-burial) projects to be funded for research and documentation, and to provide closure for Indigenous communities like the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. They should not have to bear the cost of repatriating their lost children alone.
We are glad to see your government pledging to fast-track Bills C-5 and C-8. We urge you to carry on with Bill C-15, which would be a concrete step toward the goal of protection of Indigenous burial sites as per Articles 11 and 12 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Do not lag on this important work. Words are no longer enough. It is time for action.
Sincerely yours, on behalf of the Policy Board of Crossroads United Church,
Karen Renaud, Chair
Jason Hodgins, Secretary
(The Rev.) Cari Copeman-Haynes, Lead Minister