Observing the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
In 2012, as Moderator of the 138th General Assembly, John Vissers participated in the Saskatchewan National Event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and spoke on behalf of the Presbyterian, United, and Anglican churches. Part of those remarks are recorded in the Final Report of the TRC. Principal Vissers offers them today for reflection as we observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, September 30, 2021:
“How do communities reconcile? Survivors, as we’ve learned, have had to keep the painful experiences of residential schools a secret for many years. Family members, in many cases, knew little or nothing about what had happened to their parents or grandparents. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada is giving Survivors this opportunity to share what has happened to them, to share painful memories with family members, with friends, and with Canadian society…”
“Reconciliation is a conscious act involving two or more parties…And reconciliation, of course, must be rooted in truth, in truth that comes from deep listening and deep respect for the other. For the members of the churches that ran the schools on behalf of the government of Canada and therefore the people of Canada, we need to listen deeply and profoundly to the stories of Survivors…”
“Reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, if it is to have any meaning, must be mutual. When there is mutuality, the journey then may begin. We understand, as churches, and we acknowledge that many Survivors are not yet prepared to participate in this journey in this way. But we must continue as churches to listen deeply and profoundly and to live into the reconciliation that we believe lies ahead of us.”
-The Rev. Dr. John Vissers, The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume 6, Canada’s Residential Schools: Reconciliation, p. 171.