5 Years of Truth and Reconciliation
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its Final Report in December 2015. Since then, KAIROS has worked hard to keep the TRC Report and 94 Calls to Action at the forefront of our social justice and education work in Canada. Looking back on the last 5 years there were many special moments, or as those in our circles like to call them, ‘Kairos moments’. In March 2020, the KAIROS Steering Committee began a Year of Prayer for the persons, families and communities connected to The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the National Student Memorial Register of children who didn’t come home from Indian Residential Schools. To commemorate the 5-year anniversary, KAIROS is inviting people to record themselves reciting the prayer that was written for this initiative, and to email those recordings to Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator Chrystal Waban at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in a compilation video to demonstrate a unity of spirit across Canada.
On March 11, 2020, the KAIROS Steering Committee began a Year of Prayer for the persons, families and communities connected to The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the National Student Memorial Register of children who didn’t come home from Indian Residential Schools.
The Year of Prayer originally consisted of two parts:
- A Shared Time for Prayer: KAIROS Steering Committee members continue to pray weekly at the same time on Wednesdays, holding our families in spirit close to our hearts.
- A Travelling Bundle of Sacred Items: Under the guidance of gkisedtanamoogk, Knowledge Keeper and long-standing member of the KAIROS Indigenous Rights Circle, a Bundle was created to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and Indigenous children who died while attending residential schools.
The Travelling Bundle includes:
- the Calls for Justice of the MMIWG report
- the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
- the National Student Memorial Registry with the list of names of deceased children
- Sacred medicines
- The Prayer by Rev. Leigh Kerns (see below)
- Messages from gkisedtanamoogk about the enormity of evil and the meaning of the medicines and wampum in the Bundle
The Bundle was travelling wrapped in a blanket made by Knowledge Keeper Sandra Campbell and accompanied by a video featuring gkistedtanamoogk that explains its significance.
The Bundle began its journey in Toronto on territory governed by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant. It travelled across Canada, and is now in the Prairies, where it arrived when the pandemic first swept through Canada. This initiative, which is meant to honour, pray, listen with open hearts, and discern how we might continue to respond to the Calls for Justice and reconciliation was impacted greatly by COVID-19.
The Prayer We hold close to our hearts today Those whose absence leaves a gap too great for words. We hold to our hearts and grieve those beautiful lives cut short by colonial violence. For the thousands of children who did not return home from residential school For the many Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ2S+ people who are missing, or taken from us May love surround them. May love circle those who miss them from their circle of love, family and community. May love empower and encourage us to act with compassion, understanding, peace. Peace and dignity to all beings, of earth, sky, and sea. We lament the violence at every level of Canadian society. May we all listen, implement, and follow the leadership of the families in this time of reckoning and calls for justice. We hold close to our hearts the tears of so many, and the dead who lay in the earth. We commit ourselves to praying, listening, being in relationship, speaking, and acting for the healing of the generations past and generations to come. Creator of life- unleash the healing of your love in this land. In the spirit of the wounded God-with-us, Amen. -Leigh Kern, Coordinator of Indigenous Ministries and Reconciliation Animator, Diocese of Toronto, The Anglican Church of Canada
Not long after the KAIROS Steering Committee launched the Year of Prayer KAIROS, in partnership with the Legacy of Hope Foundation, launched the #Ravensmessengersofchange campaign, with accompanying English and French activity booklets. This multi-faceted activity guide offers individuals and groups of all ages a timely opportunity to further TRC Call to Action 62.i, by providing Education for Reconciliation and invites participants to learn more about Truth and Reconciliation, from the comfort of home.
This initiative builds on the Winds of Change campaign which KAIROS launched in June 2015. Like the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples 20 years before, the TRC identified education as key to reconciliation. In November 2015, and as part of this campaign, KAIROS and the Legacy of Hope Foundation partnered to launch the Education for Reconciliation (E4R) initiative, which focuses on building momentum for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada and keeping the Calls to Action before the public eye to ensure full implementation.
The E4R initiative urges all provinces and territories to make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for all students in Kindergarten to Grade Twelve. Since the release of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action in 2015, KAIROS has graded Canadian provinces and territories on their public commitment to and implementation of Call to Action 62.i. The KAIROS network also collected signatures, worked with MPPs, and collaborated with other groups to organize education and advocacy events, including mass KAIROS Blanket Exercises at various provincial legislatures.
While these highlights offer a glimpse of KAIROS moments, our networks continue to learn and unlearn, in support of the TRC’s findings. KAIROS will continue to work towards a day when Canada fully implements the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and continues the important commitment to dismantling systemic racism, in pursuit of equity and justice for all.