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Christian composer and performing artist, Brian Doerksen, has released a moving new song in honour of missing indigenous children, along with the following powerful message:

Thursday Sep 30, 2021.

Today is a momentous day in Canada. September 30 is ‘National Day for Truth & Reconciliation’, the first time there is a federal statutory holiday that recognizes the colonial legacy of residential schools, honours Indigenous survivors and is vital to the ongoing reconciliation process. My last newsletter was about the release of the song 215 earlier this month; a song I co-wrote with Indigenous artist Cheryl Bear, and recorded with a number of Christian artists in a united song of grief and identification. As we mark today, and move towards a more just and hopeful future together let’s continue to do the following.


This is the time to listen to our Indigenous sisters and brothers . . . and not be in a rush. One of the ways I’m putting ‘listening’ into practice is reading books like Native’ by Kaitlin B. Curtice and ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Read and listen to a fresh rendering of the New Testament ‘The First Nations Version – An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament’ By Terry M. Wildman. Of course, nothing tops listening face to face as Indigenous people are brought across our life path. In my recent interactions, I’m moved and amazed by their resilience and their humour that endures. 


Learning more about Indigenous wisdom as it relates to the land and how their life as a community is sustained through practices of the honourable harvest, and how their spirituality is connected to the sacred land and the Creator that made everything. With regards to listening and learning through reading, Steve Bell has suggested that a good primer is Thomas King's ‘Inconvenient Indian’ which gives a good overview of several hundred years of history. A good theological follow-up is Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah's ‘Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery.’ There are also free Indigenous studies courses available through the University of Alberta (Edmonton & Calgary) and other local colleges and universities.  


There are many good causes and excellent charities. I’d encourage you to give to charities that help restore people who continue to struggle with residential school trauma. Below are the links to several good ones that I and Cheryl Bear recommend; I’m sure there are other good ones throughout the country, and the dynamic equivalent in the US and other parts of the world.

Indian Residential School Survivors Society

Reconciliation Canada

Orange Shirt Day

This is going to take time. Grief is slow, and some of the unraveling for us with colonizing ancestry is going to be difficult and uncomfortable. We’re not in a rush to get anywhere, other than there is urgency to end our denial of this ancient wound and to face the truth so that work of reconciliaction can continue. I’m grateful to be a small part of this healing journey in our beautiful country. 


p.s. Looking forward to a special announcement in a couple of weeks to mark Thanksgiving in Canada (a free online showing of ‘Hymns For Life at the Shining Rose’ special) and a further update on my upcoming ‘Unlocking Your Songs’ online course.