Number 9

Anabaptist church leaders offer statement to residential school survivors

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Anabaptist leaders present a blanket and a statement for inclusion in the Bentwood Box, a repository for offerings and commemorations at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event in Edmonton last month. Standing with the TRC commissioners and survivor representatives are Tim Dyck of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, centre, and Hilda Hildebrand of Mennonite Church Canada, fifth from left.

The following statement was presented at the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Edmonton in March.

Truth and reconciliation

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Irene Crosland adds some prairie sage to the sacred fire burning outside one of the main entrances to the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, the site of the seventh and final national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event. She wrote this poem as a result of her experiences at the TRC event.

Gathering crowd surges
Finding space
Residential School survivors
And listeners
This is my time
You listen
Throbbing drum beats
Pulsing loudly
Tonal language singing
Prayers lifting
Bowed shoulders quake
Remembering robbed childhood
Secrets buried deeply
Opening carefully
Angry man turns

Menno maids help families survive

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Some of the earliest Mennonites to live in large cities in Canada were young women who went to work as domestics in upper-class homes. Before the 1920s, Mennonites were farmers and the city was considered a foreign and dangerous place, but Mennonite refugee families who had fled from Communist Russia in the 1920s sometimes felt they had no choice but to accept work where it was available.

American Mennonites attended past TRC event

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A crowd gathers for the Survivors Walk into the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) Coliseum in Vancouver, B.C., on Day One of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s British Columbia National Event. (Credit: Melissa Knapp, provided by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

In the fall of 2013 a Mennonite delegation of six Americans and Canadians went to Vancouver, B.C., for a Truth and Reconciliation event.

One thing lacking

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I had a great idea for starting this sermon—a PowerPoint presentation of artists’ depictions of this Bible story. I could imagine the paintings: a man in beautiful robes running and kneeling before Jesus, or the dramatic moment of Jesus looking at the man with love, or the man reacting to Jesus’ words with a sad expression on his face.

Our mothers’ wombs

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Recently, I watched a young mother and her family seated nearby in an airport restaurant. The mother was calmly multi-tasking: feeding her son small bites of food, wiping her daughter’s face and carrying on a conversation with her husband. Just before the kids ran off to play at the toy structure, they raised their faces for Mommy kisses.

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