We have all been shocked by the recent discovery of 215 bodies of children on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School – children unacknowledged and forgotten except by their families and communities. At Islington we have hung orange ribbons, planted orange marigolds and prayed laments for these forgotten little ones. But, if we are to walk the road to reconciliation, it is time to do more.
Islington United Church will be making two contributions of $2,150 each in memory of the forgotten children: one to the Healing Fund of the United Church of Canada and another to the educational and healing programs of the Five Oaks Retreat Centre in Paris, Ontario.
The Healing Fund
Established in 1994, the Healing Fund provides grants to support healing initiatives in Indigenous communities to address the ongoing impacts of the residential school system. Many applicants name a need for mending, restoring and celebrating. Indigenous communities may apply for up to $15,000 to create healing, culture and/or language projects. The fund’s oversight group is made up of representatives from diverse Indigenous communities across the country and they determine the fund’s criteria and evaluate applications. Islington’s donation will contribute to these restorative projects.
Five Oaks Retreat Centre
Five Oaks is the only interfaith retreat centre in Canada and is located on sacred space where two rivers meet, on the traditional territory of a number of First Nations. The centre seeks a new relationship with the Original Peoples of this land, one based in honour and deep respect, acknowledging their stewardship of this land throughout the ages. Five Oaks’ vision is “to be a sacred place where peoples of all faiths as well as spiritual seekers can gather in community to live, work, learn, pray, play, heal and act for justice.” Islington’s donation to Five Oaks will provide educational and healing programs for settler and Indigenous participants, such as honouring missing students of Indian Residential Schools through prayer and dialogue.
If you would like to join in remembering the children and taking steps to reconciliation, please consider making your own contribution to the Healing Fund or the healing programming of the Five Oaks Retreat Centre.
Cheques can also be mailed to
The United Church of Canada
Attn. Healing Fund
200 – 3250 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4
Five Oaks Retreat Centre
1 Bethel Road
Paris, ON N3L 3E3
Our contributions are part of the movement towards living out the United Church’s Apology to Indigenous Peoples (1986) and the Apology to Former Students of United Church Indian Residential Schools and to their Families and Communities (1998).