Today is Orange Shirt Day, the day everyone is encouraged to wear an orange shirt to honour the Indigeneous children who were sent to residential schools in Canada and to learn more about the history of those schools. Orange Shirt Day began in Williams Lake B.C. in 2013 at the Joseph Mission residential school commemoration event at which time survivor Phyllis Webstad told the story of her shiny new orange shirt taken away from her on her first day of school at the Mission.
As a congregation we have taken some steps together to learn about Canada’s history including the Residential School experience. A “Blanket Exercise” guided us through the story of our Indigeneous neighbours. WMC Book Clubs have read and discussed “Indian Horse,” “The Reason You Walk,” “The Orenda.” In December 2019 the WMC Board approved the following Land Acknowledgement Statement:
“We acknowledge with gratitude that we are worshiping on the traditional territories of the Anishnabe, the Haudenosaunee, and the neutral peoples.
We give thanks for the First Peoples who called this land home and for all the ways they cared for the land.
We give thanks for all who have made this land home. For fertile fields that have fed generations, for waterways that have provided food, and for trees that have sheltered and borne fruit, we give thanks.
As Anabaptists we strive to walk in the ways of peace, reconciliation, and justice with all peoples and God’s good creation.”
As we wear our orange shirts today and reflect upon our land acknowledgement statement which emerged in response to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation recommendations, may we continue the journey of learning and unlearning, listening, responding, and walking in the ways of peace, reconciliation, and justice with all peoples and God’s good creation.