A LAMENT FOR THE KNOWN
To honour the 215 unnamed Indigenous children in Kamloops and all the Survivors or those who died at the residential schools in Canada—those left to be found and those never to be found. The names shared here are my own Mushkegowuk Cree family names on my mother’s side, whose names I have found among those deaths identified at Northern Ontario residential schools.
A Lament for the Known but Unnamed
Fail me right now, Father.
I feel more like groaning, yelling, screaming with the echoes of David,
How long, O Lord, How long?
I should be shocked,
But I am numb,
It’s not new, we, your First Peoples here on Turtle Island
We’ve spoken, with no one willing to listen,
If I cried Alissapi, Mark, Sailor, Sutherland, Gibson, who but the wind seems to hear?
Siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles, kokum’s and mosoms, parents,
Torn from their families, their culture,
Their language, their Creator
Broken, beaten, abused, buried where no one knew.
Brought to the light. Mother Earth sharing her truth.
Wounds reopened. Atrocities revealed. News cycles, story of the moment.
Their names taken when they walked into that school.
Their names still, stolen, when taken out.
They called me number 1, or 2, or 3 . . .
Now they call me that again.
No longer disappeared, but still
Lord, we want so desperately to return them their names but are left with
1, 2, 3 . . .
Speak their names for us, for them, for their families.
Remember their names for us, speak them to the wind, perhaps . . .
Perhaps we might hear.
Who were they?
Who did you intend for them to be as they followed their Creator?
Where were you then?
Where are you now?
We need you Father.
There are more children to come. It will get worse.
Give strength to those who grieve. Peace to those who wondered where their child lay. Knowing she was gone, he was passed, but nowhere to visit, to talk, to be with, to say goodbye.
Hope to us all.
Please open the hearts of our Canadian friends from the four directions.
Open our eyes to see the pain, the loss, the truth that we are not who we think we are.
Unstop our ears that we might listen for our shared humanity.
Seal our lips, that the listening might be uninterrupted by a need to deny, discount, or rewrite history . . .
Jesus, burden our hearts with a ministry of reconciliation
Canada needs healing.
There is a pain and sorrow within the hearts of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and all the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island today.
Pour out your presence, your peace, your strength, your love, that Creator might hold them, us, in the palm of His hand.
Heal them, heal us, heal this land.