Hidden from History:
The Canadian Holocaust
Let Justice Begin in your own Back Yard, and Church Yard: An Open Letter to the United Church of Canada
March 23, 2004
Dear members and officials of the United Church,
In recent weeks, you have made public statements of concern about the aboriginal women and children who have disappeared in Vancouver's downtown eastside, and along the "Highway of Tears" west of Prince George.
I am perplexed why you have not made a similar outcry about the thousands of aboriginal women and children who disappeared in the Indian residential schools run by your church across Canada until the 1980's.
While lawsuits brought against you have forced you to admit to sexually violating generations of Indian children in these "schools", you have remained continually silent about the allegations of murder, torture, involuntary sterilizations, and mass graves brought against you by the same native men and women who have successfully sued you for their sexual abuse.
How do you answer these allegations?
I have been taken to many sites on Canada's west coast where survivors claim that hundreds, perhaps thousands of Indian children are buried in secret, after having died in United Church residential schools.
Why have your voices and consciences not been lifted on behalf of THOSE disappeared Indian people?
Do you not realize that simple decency requires that, first and foremost, you help the relatives of these fallen children locate and recover their hidden remains, so that they can receive a proper burial, and their souls may finally be at rest?
What is stopping you from doing so?
Do you not realize that your words of "healing" and "concern" for native people today are empty and meaningless, when you refuse to start at square one, and help find the women and children who were made to disappear by your own clergy and employees?
Sadly, until the first lawsuits were brought against you by native survivors of the residential schools in 1996, you remained silent about ANY of your crimes in these "schools". The commands of lawyers appear to have outweighed the dictates of your own consciences -and the requirements of the Gospels. Before the world, you have declared by your silence that your money and worldly power is more important to you than is doing what is right by your victims.
Perhaps it is suddenly safe and politically expedient for you to "apologize" today, and "stand in solidarity" with the people you once tried to exterminate. Now that so many aboriginal survivors have been silenced by legal gag orders and paltry out of court financial settlements won by your lawyers, it is undoubtedly possible for you to have your cake and eat it, too: to appear to do the right thing by native people without having to risk losing any money or property or credibility.
If so, such careful, manipulative behaviour is certainly not an affirmation of either your spiritual and moral integrity, or your right to speak out on behalf of anyone - least of all the native people whom you continue to wrong by your refusal to take responsibility for their murder and disappearances in your residential schools.
There is more than enough hypocrisy in our sad world. You are simply adding to it in a particularly grotesque manner by posturing as the defenders of native people when their blood is still fresh upon your collective hands.
There is a way for you to wash off this terrible stain from your church and lives, but it doesn't lie through self-justifying behaviour, or by following the instructions of the lawyers who unfortunately run your church.
To get right again, you must follow the advice of your own Bible, and as the Book of Lamentations and all the Prophets prescribe, stand naked before God, and "rend your hearts, and not your garments". You must know the truth of what you have done, and speak it honestly and publicly - even at the cost of your property, and bank accounts, and very lives. You must simply admit to your wrong, and agonize for forgiveness, as any oppressor must do to get healed.
You must know that it is you yourselves who are in need of healing - from the stain of murder, and lies, and mass denial. You have betrayed and dishonoured your own soul, and your own God - and as your own teachings command, such a spiritual wrong, such apostasy, can only be answered by an ending: a dying to yourselves and to all the filth you collectively carry.
A good man whom you claim to worship once did what you are refusing to do, and found that by dying to ourselves out of love for the Truth, we can discover paradise, and eternal life.
Do you actually believe this? Are you his followers in more than name?
The world is waiting to see.
In that hope, I remain,
Rev. Kevin D. Annett
Maple Ridge, BC V4R 1H6
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