Remembering the Children Prayer
God of our Ancestors,
who holds the spirits of our grandmothers and grandfathers
and the spirits of our grandchildren,
Remembering the Children, we now pledge ourselves to speak the Truth,
and with our hearts and our souls to act upon the Truth we have heard
of the injustices lived,
of the sufferings inflicted,
of the tears cried,
of the misguided intentions imposed,
of the power of prejudice and racism
which were allowed to smother the sounds and laughter of the forgotten children.
Hear our cries of lament for what was allowed to happen, and for what will never be.
In speaking and hearing and acting upon the Truth
may we as individuals and as a nation
meet the hope of a new beginning.
Great Creator God
who desires that all creation live in harmony and peace,
Remembering the Children
we dare to dream of a Path of Reconciliation
where apology from the heart leads to healing of the heart
and the chance of restoring the circle,
where justice walks with all,
where respect leads to true partnership,
where power to change comes from each heart.
Hear our prayer of hope,
and guide this country of Canada
on a new and different path. Amen
This prayer was used during the “Remembering the Children Aboriginal and Church Leaders Tour”, March 2008.
Apology to First Nations (1998)
To Former Students of United Church Indian Residential Schools, and to Their Families and Communities
From the deepest reaches of your memories, you have shared with us your stories of suffering from our church’s involvement in the operation of Indian Residential Schools. You have shared the personal and historic pain that you still bear, and you have been vulnerable yet again. You have also shared with us your strength and wisdom born of the life-giving dignity of your communities and traditions and your stories of survival.
In response to our church’s commitment to repentance, I spoke these words of apology on behalf of the General Council Executive on Tuesday, October 27, 1998:
“As Moderator of The United Church of Canada, I wish to speak the words that many people have wanted to hear for a very long time. On behalf of The United Church of Canada, I apologize for the pain and suffering that our church’s involvement in the Indian Residential School system has caused. We are aware of some of the damage that this cruel and ill-conceived system of assimilation has perpetrated on Canada’s First Nations peoples. For this we are truly and most humbly sorry.
“To those individuals who were physically, sexually, and mentally abused as students of the Indian Residential Schools in which The United Church of Canada was involved, I offer you our most sincere apology. You did nothing wrong. You were and are the victims of evil acts that cannot under any circumstances be justified or excused.
“We know that many within our church will still not understand why each of us must bear the scar, the blame for this horrendous period in Canadian history. But the truth is, we are the bearers of many blessings from our ancestors, and therefore, we must also bear their burdens.”
Our burdens include dishonouring the depths of the struggles of First Nations peoples and the richness of your gifts. We seek God’s forgiveness and healing grace as we take steps toward building respectful, compassionate, and loving relationships with First Nations peoples.
We are in the midst of a long and painful journey as we reflect on the cries that we did not or would not hear, and how we have behaved as a church. As we travel this difficult road of repentance, reconciliation, and healing, we commit ourselves to work toward ensuring that we will never again use our power as a church to hurt others with attitudes of racial and spiritual superiority.
“We pray that you will hear the sincerity of our words today and that you will witness the living out of our apology in our actions in the future.”
The Right Rev. Bill Phipps
Moderator of The United Church of Canada
Apology to First Nations Peoples (1986)
Rt. Rev. Robert Smith
Long before my people journeyed to this land your people were here, and you received from your Elders an understanding of creation and of the Mystery that surrounds us all that was deep, and rich, and to be treasured.
We did not hear you when you shared your vision. In our zeal to tell you of the good news of Jesus Christ we were closed to the value of your spirituality.
We confused Western ways and culture with the depth and breadth and length and height of the gospel of Christ.
We imposed our civilization as a condition for accepting the gospel.
We tried to make you be like us and in so doing we helped to destroy the vision that made you what you were. As a result you, and we, are poorer and the image of the Creator in us is twisted, blurred, and we are not what we are meant by God to be.
We ask you to forgive us and to walk together with us in the Spirit of Christ so that our peoples may be blessed and God’s creation healed.
Response to the 1986 Apology
The Apology made to the Native People of Canada by The United Church of Canada in Sudbury in August 1986 has been a very important step forward. It is heartening to see that The United Church of Canada is a forerunner in making this Apology to Native People. The All Native Circle Conference has now acknowledged your Apology. Our people have continued to affirm the teachings of the Native way of life. Our spiritual teachings and values have taught us to uphold the Sacred Fire; to be guardians of Mother Earth, and strive to maintain harmony and peaceful coexistence with all peoples.
We only ask of you to respect our Sacred Fire, the Creation, and to live in peaceful coexistence with us. We recognize the hurts and feelings will continue amongst our people, but through partnership and walking hand in hand, the Indian spirit will eventually heal. Through our love, understanding, and sincerity the brotherhood and sisterhood of unity, strength, and respect can be achieved.
The Native People of The All Native Circle Conference hope and pray that the Apology is not symbolic but that these are the words of action and sincerity. We appreciate the freedom for culture and religious expression. In the new spirit this Apology has created, let us unite our hearts and minds in the wholeness of life that the Great Spirit has given us.
We Praise You for the Sacred Fires
God, Creator and Great Mystery, we praise you for the Sacred Fires that burn today and for the prayer-filled smoke that you receive and bless. We offer our deep gratitude that the Fire’s light informs and guides our journey. We pray, just as the Elders prayed, for renewal and for the restoration of beauty to the land and its people.
We acknowledge the diverse and abundant gifts of Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. We recognize that their knowledge and wisdom have benefited generations past and present, and that this blessing will continue for generations to come. We remember the many who are committed to the healing of family, community, and nations.
We pray for Mother Earth, the waters, the winds, for our siblings the animals, birds, and fish, and all of life that surrounds us. We pray that we will walk the good Red Road of life, and that we will walk with courage, honesty, humility, love, respect, truth and wisdom.
We offer this prayer in humility and hope, and in the name, of our brother Jesus, the one who lights our path to wholeness, justice and peace. Amen.
—A prayer by the Rev. Maggie Dieter, former Executive Minister, Aboriginal Ministries and Indigenous Justice; and Bill Snow, Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Alberta, member of the Indigenous Justice and Residential School Committee