Shock. Outrage. Sorrow. Pain. These are only some of the emotions that have rocked our country and especially Indigenous communities since learning of the 215 children found buried near the former residential school in Kamloops.
No words can measure up to the horrors that were suffered there and in so many places across our country over decades and centuries of injustice and atrocities. We must shine the light of transparency on all that has occurred.
We know that there are many levels of leadership that have a real and urgent responsibility here. So do we.
Our hearts, our prayers, and our solidarity must go out to the victims and the survivors of residential schools, and to all our Indigenous brothers and sisters across Canada. At the same time, we must also extend our listening ear, our genuine concern, our desire for a better country, and our concrete actions to walk forward, hand-in-hand, towards healing, justice, reconciliation, dignity, and hope.
Where can we begin?
Listening. The stories of the survivors of residential schools have often not been given the attentiveness, care, and profound respect that they need. Moving forward together requires understanding real needs and stories. What can each one of us do to become more aware of the suffering of Indigenous peoples across Canada, in the past and in the present?
Advocating. In many ways, the plight of Indigenous persons is the deepest wound in Canadian history. As we become more acutely aware of this, we must turn our sense of solidarity into concrete actions to support, promote, and advocate for the dignity and well-being of Indigenous across Canada. What practical steps can you take?
Standing with. Behind the tragedies we hear about in the news, there are faces, stories, and names. What can we do to develop friendships and personal relationships with people who are Indigenous? How can we get personally involved?
Salt + Light Media honours the sacredness of the lives that have been lost. Every child matters.
Our faith tells us that every person is of equal value in God's eyes. Pope Francis' words inspire us to recognize the dignity of all God's children:
"Social friendship and universal fraternity necessarily call for an acknowledgement of the worth of every human person, always and everywhere. If each individual is of such great worth, it must be stated clearly and firmly that 'the mere fact that some people are born in places with fewer resources or less development does not justify the fact that they are living with less dignity'. This is a basic principle of social life that tends to be ignored in a variety of ways by those who sense that it does not fit into their worldview or serve their purposes." (Fratelli Tutti, 106)
Much has been said about the need for the Church to act in light of these disturbing revelations. We trust that the leaders of the Church will work diligently to address this problem in a way that fits the immensity of this tragedy.
At the same time, we are the Church. The Church's path of conversion passes through each one of us.
Each of us has a role to play here. We must do our active part to honour the 215 and countless others. We owe it to all those who have suffered too much for too long.
May the Spirit of our Creator lead us on this journey, from the darkest night to a new dawn.
Fr. Alan Fogarty, SJ
Chief Executive Officer
Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation