In remembrance of the 215 children who were buried on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, Baha’is across the country have been joining with their friends and neighbours to pray and reflect on how they can contribute to a process of healing the injustices of the past.
Countless gatherings have taken place across the country in response to a call from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada to “to offer special prayers… in private prayer and in devotional gatherings or vigils… [and] to educate ourselves and commit, in action, to a future that becomes day by day more illumined, freed of the darkness of this age.”
In Vancouver, more than 100 people came together virtually for an online prayer and song gathering. Many of them joined a follow-up discussion about what they could do in action. Other devotional gatherings in the city attracted hundreds more people.
At one of these gatherings, participants were reminded of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s letters to Canada in which He wrote that “there can be no doubt” that the Indigenous population “will become so illumined as to enlighten the whole world.”
Participants in a Baha’i children’s class in Aurora contributed to the creation of a video tribute, in which they recited a poem by Abigail Echo-Hawk.
Eden Naylor, the children’s class teacher, said that the children had been sharing videos of their activities with each other in order to stay connected during the pandemic. “When we heard about the 215 children’s bodies found in Kamloops at the residential school we were moved to create a video in their memory and share it as a tribute.”
The Baha’is of Edmonton dedicated the prayer portion of the community’s 19-Day Feast to the memory of the 215 children, and a number of prayers were said in Cree. The Local Assembly of Edmonton wrote to the Baha’is: “The Bahá’í Community of Edmonton joins with the Indigenous people and communities of Canada in grieving the profound loss of the 215 children whose remains were found at the Kamloops Residential School by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. This grievous legacy from Canada’s colonial past entailing the loss of dignity, language, culture and freedom, and the lives of so many precious children, is surely a legacy that all of us must acknowledge and vow never to see repeated.”
In Montreal, the Baha’i community hosted dozens of devotional gatherings in neighborhoods across the city “to commemorate this immense tragic loss that has shaken the country.”