Good evening. My name is Donna Rietschlin; I am the Chair of St. Joe’s Parish Pastoral Council.
Thank you for being part of this evening of prayer, silence and reflection. We have come together for so may reasons and with so many thoughts, feelings and intentions. Some of us are angry, some of us want immediate action, some of us are confused, some of us are sad, some of us are ashamed . . . when we are faced with the pain of our indigenous sisters and brothers, we respond in many ways. Ways that often reflect our own pain and past hurts. Since May 27th I have spoken with many of you and received your emails, Chris Adam and Fr Jim have heard from you, too. Thank you for reaching out and for sharing your stories, your frustrations, your anger, and your ideas about how to move forward as a parish community.
Last night the parish pastoral council met to pray, to listen to some of the responses and reflections available online from our indigenous sisters and brothers, and to listen to one another. Our listening and conversations have begun again. The harm done to the first peoples of this land began more than 400 years ago with the arrival of European explorers and settlers. The harm continues today, much of it caused by institutions and cultures of which we are a part. Many of the indigenous people speaking today are asking us to listen to them, to learn their history and ensure justice prevails. They will lead the way forward.
Our indigenous sisters and brothers ask that we become educated.
On May 31st Chief Rosanne Casimir said “the Tk’emlups community is also asking all Canadians to reacquaint themselves with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Final Report and Calls to Action and to show solidarity by wearing an orange shirt and starting conversations with neighbours about why they are doing so.”
As members of the St. Joe’s Parish Pastoral Council we commit to focusing on the Calls to Action identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission this coming year. We commit to creating opportunities to listen and opportunities to learn. We do not know exactly what this will look like today. We want to listen to our indigenous sisters and brothers and walk together as we listen and learn. It is only when we can agree on our history, all of our history, that we will move forward together. This journey will be painful and longer than we want; there are no quick fixes here. Acknowledging the harms done, the tensions and distrust between us, the pain of our sisters and brothers, the shame we carry, while listening and learning offers hope for healing.
I pray we can stay in this together and create a new way of being the Body of Christ, led by Indigenous peoples. I pray we can each commit to deep listening and learning. I pray that eventually we will find and have the courage to follow that arc that leads to justice.
This message was given on June 9th, 2021 at a special evening prayer gathering of St. Joseph’s Parish, held in light of the news from the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.