A Call to Address Racism and White Supremacy from CUIM’s Board Chair

Almost a week ago, the remains of 215 children were found near the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia. The Canadian government used residential schools to attempt to erase the indigeneity of First Nations children by removing them from their families, forbidding them to speak their languages, and forcing them to live on site. Many of them were owned and operated by the church, both Catholic and Protestant, and abuse was rampant. The last one was closed in 1996.

On Sunday night, a Muslim family out for a walk in London, Ontario, was run over and killed in a hate crime. Only the 9-year-old son survived. The local mosque has experienced Islamophobia for years and has a guard on staff. This comes on the heels of a fatal stabbing of a Muslim volunteer caretaker in Etobicoke, Ont. and the 2017 mosque massacre in Quebec City, Quebec, where six people were killed and 19 seriously injured.

What ties these two incidents together is white supremacy and racism. I’ve heard reporters ask First Nations and Muslim people how they feel. Still, the real question we (settlers and non-Muslims) should be asking is, what are we doing to combat discrimination against indigenous people and Muslims? Are we educating ourselves and speaking out when someone says something inappropriate? London’s mayor said that “this is not who we are,” but clearly, it’s a part of us.

I was born and raised a Catholic. At mass, Fr. Nick would use Charles Schultz’s Peanuts cartoons to showcase the anxiety, joy, and messiness of being human. It was funny in a dad joke kind of way, but we knew that we weren’t alone in our experiences. We had each other and Jesus Christ to rely on as we sang the Lord’s Prayer together: “Our Father who art in heaven… Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In this line, we knew that in taking communion, we acknowledged that Jesus died on the cross for us, that we had sinned, and that we were being called on to forgive others. In a weird way, I miss that in the Disciples’ worship services I have attended, asking God to forgive us for our sins. Here was an opportunity to let that shame and guilt go, but also to recognize that we had hurt others. May we be humble as we walk this Earth together. “Hallowed be thy name.”

In thinking about what has happened in the country that I now call home, I ask that God forgive us, the residential school survivors forgive us, and the Muslim community forgives us. May Christ continue to walk alongside and teach us. “Thy kin-dom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Amen.

Ms. Nadine A. Compton
Board Chair
Christian Unity and Interfaith Ministry

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