Shouting “shame on the church!” about 20 people picketed the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office on Feb. 8, demanding that the church investigate the cases of children who died at or went missing from the Indian residential school system.
Led by former United Church minister Kevin Annett, the group delivered a letter for the primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, requesting “repatriation” of the remains of such children “to their homes for a proper burial.” It also called for the church to “publicly name and surrender” people “who are responsible for or complicit in these deaths and disappearances.”
Representing Archbishop Hiltz, who was out of the country, Ellie Johnson, director of the partnerships department, told the demonstrators that the church is “deeply sorry” and “deeply concerned” about the issue and is “committed to providing information that will help families regain their own histories.”
Nancy Hurn, the national church’s archivist, said the church has been researching information about children who died in the schools as part of its work with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, now being established by the federal government.
Donna Bomberry, co-ordinator of indigenous ministries with the Anglican church, read to the demonstrators a statement from the national indigenous bishop, Mark MacDonald, who was travelling. While he said he shares “a number” of Mr. Annett’s concerns, Bishop MacDonald suggested that the “style” of his “non-aboriginal approach” undermined First Nations’ attempts to uncover the truth about residential schools.