Every Child Matters
On September 30, we are marking “Orange Shirt Day” to honour residential school survivors and remember the children whose childhoods and lives were stolen in the residential school system. Orange Shirt Day was inspired by the story of Phyllis Jack Webstad who, when she was six years old, wore an orange shirt from her grandmother on her first day at St. Joseph Mission Residential School. Her shirt was taken away from her and represents the many loses she and other children and families experienced through the residential schools.
We join with others across Turtle Island to remember and mourn this colonial legacy and to honor the survivors of the Indian Residential School System. We know that “Every Child Matters” and we are committed to honoring all Indigenous ways of being, celebrating, and knowing.
We offer the following prayers and songs from our students and Keeper of the Learning Circle to acknowledge this history and its ongoing impact and to lift up the strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples.
You can find more resources on the United Church website.
Cherokee Morning Song
Keeper of the Learning Circle Susie McPherson Derendy (Cree) shares a Cherokee Morning Song for the Indigenous children and families affected by residential schools.
A song by Jonathan Maracle (Mohawk), shared by Keeper of the Learning Circle Susie McPherson Derendy (Cree), to honour the Indigenous children and families affected by residential schools.
by Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre student & elder Robert Patton (Onkwehonwe, Mohawk)
O loving Creator, our hearts are heavy with pain as we recall the abuse and suffering of our little Onkwehonwe brothers and sisters who came from many nations. Time is supposed to heal the wounds of abuse. Time has not erased the loneliness when we were taken away from our families, from our brothers and sisters, from our parents.
O God of mercy, please forgive us for the anger that erupts when we are triggered by the evil forced upon us, both our parents and we the children. It may just take a word, a gesture. You gave us our language, you gave us our traditions, and our ceremonies. We were whipped for speaking and living who you made us to be. They took my brothers and sisters from our homes and separated us. They kept us apart until we lost touch and some never to be seen again. We remember those who never returned and died there. O God, I am angry, so angry this was allowed to happen.
We remember blaming our parents for allowing this to happen. We blamed them for not loving us, for making us suffer. We returned home in later years, finding our families not knowing us, we now spoke a different language, they couldn’t understand us. We were lost, we were once again lonely. Now, Lord, we ask you to forgive us for blaming our parents who shed many tears and suffered so much pain when we were taken away.
O loving Creator, today many of us are struggling with all these terrible memories of our evil abusers who tried to wash away who you made us to be. Creator, we ask you to help us. Guide us to walk in a good way, strengthen our people to fight the racism and discrimination that still plagues our people. We ask you to make our Onkwehonwe people strong again.
O loving Creator, today we remember and honour all your children. We ask you to bless each and every one of them. All this in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Niawen Kowa
Every Child Matters
by Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre student Joyce Johnston (Ojibway/Potawatomi)
Not every child knows Jesus,
But every child should.
Because if every child knew Jesus
They would connect with a love that is good,
Yes love can carry you
Through many dark times,
His Love keeps you safe and protected
His message is … you matter child…
It does not matter your color or where you live
Jesus loves and values every child
and for you he seeks to give
A glorious place to live
For he said that his kingdom belongs
To such as these…..because you matter.