Christian Chronicle

In Canada, a reckoning after mass grave of 215 Indigenous children is found

Discovery at a former residential school offers a ‘painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter’ in the nation’s history.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

At age 6, Brenda Cyr was taken from her family and forced to live at a church-run residential school — part of a 120-year Canadian government effort to assimilate Indigenous children.

In seven years at two such schools, Cyr, now 60, recalls that she was yelled at, beaten and sexually assaulted by a priest.

As an adult, her life spiraled out of control.

“I was into drugs, alcohol. I tried killing myself six times, and I just lived this horrible life,” the Saulteau First Nation tribal member told The Christian Chronicle.

Eventually, Cyr — who attends the Gentle Road Church of Christ in Regina, Saskatchewan — found peace and the willingness to forgive through Jesus.

But the haunting memories linger, for Cyr and many in Canada.

On May 27, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that it had found the remains of 215 children buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. 

The mass grave, confirmed with the help of a ground-penetrating radar specialist, has brought a national reckoning to the United States’ northern neighbor.

“It is a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter.

The recent news has galvanized Canada to revisit that history, Gentle Road minister Kevin Vance said of his home country. He likens the massive response to how the video of George Floyd’s death focused America’s attention on police brutality and racial justice last year.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the July edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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