Every Child Matters

Every year for National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada, I write a blog based on Widjiitiwin being an Ojibwe word meaning fellowship. There is such rich heritage in the teachings of our indigenous peoples. This year what stands out so clearly is the injustice of the discovery of 215 children buried in a mass grave at a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia has come to a moment of reckoning. Now the number is almost 1300 and more yet to be found. 

I have struggled to find the words, to understand, to know what to do. I don’t have any words to describe this crime. There aren’t any words that do justice to this situation. To say every child matters is too simple without the action to back it up. We can mourn for the children who did not receive the love, support and care they deserved when they were taken from their families and communities and forced to attend residential schools. The terrible actions of the church did not reflect the true teachings of Christ as presented in the Bible and we are sorry that was done in the name of Christ hurt so many people. The church needs to do better. 

There needs to be an accounting held for the wrongs done to countless families. I believe ground penetrating radar needs to be used at every residential school and find all the missing murdered children. 

moccasins

I also believe that if the children had been taught the real love of Jesus they would have been better off. Did you know that Jesus paid attention to children? This was uncommon in the culture of the day and much of time before and after. Children are loved by God, accepted by Jesus, have guardian angels, are a gift from God and are precious in His sight. Check out what the Bible has to say about children.

  • Matthew 19:13-15 – Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (see also: Mark 10:13-16 & Luke 18:15-17)
  • Isaiah 7:14; 9:6 & Matthew 1:23 – The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us.
  • Matthew 18:1-6 – At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (see also: Mark 9:33-37 & Luke 9:46-48)
  • Matthew 18:10 – See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 
  • Genesis 1:26, 27; 9:6 – kids are made in God’s image, Jesus came as an infant
  • Luke 2:52 – and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man. This is a wholistic view of growth – mind, physical, spiritual and social
  • Psalm 8:2 From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise, because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
  • Psalm 127:3 – children are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. 

Read what www.facebook.com/Trish.Nolie posted on May 30, 2021 written to help us non Indigenous people understand the issues. 

To all my non-native family and relatives far and near. I love you and know I need you you right now. I need you to understand and listen to us more now then ever. 215 children as young as 3 years old were found in a mass grave in Kamloops B.C on Thursday. Imagine that. Please imagine what you would feel like if your children were literally ripped from your arms and forced into a school and experienced every type of abuse. I mean every type of abuse. Sexual, physical, mental, emotional and told you are stupid because you couldn’t speak their language (English), dirty because your skin was brown.

I will share my grandfathers story. He was my hero, my man, the one who guided me. He is gone now and resting, but he lives through all of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He gave me permission to share his story before he passed. When the settlements were coming for the survivors of Indian residential schools I had to sit with my grandpa through that process to help him understand what the government was offering. After I heard his story I applied for trauma counselling, because it was so heavy. It was to heavy for me to carry, I started drinking more and even attempted suicide after hearing his story. It effected my mom, my sisters and myself greatly. But now know it was not my grandpa’s or my granny’s fault. As she went to that school too.

He was 4 when he was first brought to St. Michael’s Residential School in Alert Bay. When he was 10 or 11 he said he was so hungry and starving. So he went to the garden in the back of the school and stole a turnip. He got caught and they dragged him to the chicken coop and tied him up. So flash ahead to when he was in his 40’s. He went to see a back surgeon to assess his back and prepare for surgery. When the Dr scanned his back and went back to see grandpa. He asked him, Mr. Nolie how old were you when you broke your back. He responded that he didn’t think he did. Well the Dr said “you have a big scar on your back bone that indicates that you have. Is there a time when you couldn’t walk in your life. That’s when he remembered. When he was tied to the chicken coop for stealing a turnip, they beat him with a 2×4. He was in the infirmary for around 6 months and couldn’t walk. So my grandpa didn’t even know his back was broken, all because he was starving. This is only one account of his time in that school. He also told me that lots of kids did go missing when he was in there. He often would pray for them that they made it home to where they were from.

Since the news I haven’t been ok. This isn’t ok. 215 kids and that’s just one school. There were 139 Indian Residential Schools across this country, the last one closing down in 1996. So this isn’t even that long ago. Imagine… please try. We are tired, we are strong but we are tired of fighting a system that was built to break us. I have cried so many times in the last few days thinking of those children, and how scared they were in those last moments of their lives. How far from their families and home they were. Please light a candle for them and their families. Please listen to our stories, cause it’s real. And we are still living it. I love you Grandpa and thank you for being so strong and resilient.

2 thoughts on “Jesus Loved the 215

  1. Hi Mike,

    First off, I want to acknowledge your address of the 215 missing/murdered Indigenous children. I think that the acknowledgement is a powerful, meaningful, and appropriate step.

    However, while your acknowledgment is meaningful, it was done in an inappropriate manner. Jesus is neither worshiped, nor recognized in Indigenous teachings. First Nations spirituality is centered around the Creator, and around the sacred nature of the land, and of our ancestors. Focusing so heavily on Jesus in your acknowledgment is a form of colonialism. In addition, the root of the First Nations genocide lies in both racism, and in the false notion that the purge took place “in the name of Jesus”.

    Proper reconciliation lies in many facets- using your voice to re-entwine the teachings of _your_ church (the church of settlers) is not an act of reconciliation.

    I would strong encourage you to eliminate mentions of Jesus from this post.

    – Katie White

    1. Dear Katie,

      Thank you for your comments. As a summer camp for kids we take the value of children quite seriously. My blog is not meant to present an indigenous teaching but rather a Christian acknowledgement that what was done was wrong and horrible! The terrible actions of the church in the residential schools does not reflect the true teachings of Christ as presented in the Bible. We are sorry that what was done in the name of Jesus hurt so many people. From our faith perspective we acknowledge that the church behaved horribly and not in accordance with the true teaching of Christian faith. I have added more of an apology to the blog.

      Sincerely,
      Mike

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