Alissa Bender
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Every child matters.

In the gospels, Jesus is upset with his disciples when they get in the way of him blessing children. How much more do we lament and grieve the loss of life, as the remains of 215 children were found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School this week? These young ones are among thousands of Indigenous children who died after being stolen from their homes, families, communities, and cultures, and thrust into Canada’s residential school system.

As Mennonite settlers, we also must reckon with the role of the Church in this system. We must all continue to listen, learn, and be called to acts of reconciliation as the First Nations of these lands lead us on. As resources for listening, learning, and acting, watch this “Treaty as Sacred Covenant” video series, or borrow the listed books from the HMC library. A new anthology that traces the history of Anabaptist commitments to Indigenous justice and decolonization since the mid-1960s can be borrowed or purchased here. Click here for a statement and engagement suggestions from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.

May the memory of these 215 children, and all the children they represent, awaken us to the Way upon which Jesus calls us, “for it is to such as these (children) that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14).  

HMC Library Books
Kaitlin Curtice, Native: Identity, Belonging and Rediscovering God
Kaitlin Curtice, Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places
Vine Deloria Jr, God is Red: A native view of religion
Steve Heinrichs and Jonathan Dyck, Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization
Jeff Friesen and Steve Heinrichs, Quest for Respect: The Church and Indigenous Spirituality
Cheryl Woelk and Steve Heinrichs, Yours, Mine, Ours: Unravelling the Doctrine of Discovery
Steve Heinrichs, Wrongs to Rights: How Churches can Engage the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Steve Heinrichs, Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry: Conversations on Creation, Land Justice and Life Together
Lyla June Johnston and Joy De Vito, Lifting Hearts Off the Ground: Declaring Indigenous Rights in Poetry
Larry Loyie, Residential Schools: With the Words and Images of Survivors
Richard Twiss, Rescuing The Gospel From The Cowboys
Randy Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision 
Various authors, Speaking my truth: Reflections on Reconciliation & Residential School     
DVD: Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies (the story of Mennonites, Lutherans, and the Young Chippewayan First Nation around Laird, SK)  

Children’s picture books:
Nicola Campbell, Shin-Chi's Canoe
Randy Woodley, The Harmony Tree
David Bouchard and Shelley Willier, The Drum Calls Softly
Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak and Vladyana Krykora, Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails