Photo credit: Wirestock / Sproat Lake, Port Alberni
Original statement via the National United Church of
This information may be traumatic for residential school survivors, families, and community. If you are feeling pain or distress, please call the free 24-hour crisis line: 1-866-925-4419. You can also call the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line at 1-855-242-3310. It’s toll-free and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Upon hearing the preliminary research findings on deaths and unmarked graves at the Alberni residential institution, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, Moderator of The United Church of Canada, said: “The church will not look away from the truth that continues to be uncovered. The United Church of Canada continues our commitment to live into our Apologies, to be accountable, and to further the work of truth and reconciliation in concrete acts of justice and reparation.”
With deep remorse and grief, The United Church of Canada acknowledges the truth at the Alberni residential institution, which was run by the United Church. This is not new information for Indigenous communities; Indigenous people have been telling the world about deaths and unmarked gravesites for a very long time. We have not always listened to or heard you.
The United Church of Canada offers our deepest sympathies for the children who died at the institution, including those who did not make it home; survivors; the families; communities; and all those impacted by Canada’s residential institution system that tore Indigenous children from their families and communities.
The United Church of Canada was an active and willing participant in the operation of residential institutions. We were wrong to participate in this colonial, racist, and oppressive system.
In an effort to better live into our faith, we are taking steps to reconcile our legacy as perpetrators in this system. We know that our actions have directly contributed to trauma and death, loss of language and culture, breakdowns of the family unit, and intergenerational trauma.
The United Church of Canada, both regionally and nationally, hears the Tseshaht First Nation’s specific Calls for Truth and Justice directed to us, and commits to continued conversation with them about specific actions in response.
Every Child Matters.
For other communities impacted by United Church residential institutions, please contact BringingChildrenHome@United-Church.ca to learn more about our support for research, identifying graves, knowledge gathering, commemoration, ceremony, and direct provision of archival records and support.
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