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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

St. Michael's

Bishop Logan of The Anglican Diocese Of British Columbia

I was reading a blog post
which began:
Defined by the Eucharist?
Some reflections inspired by something our Bishop, Logan, shared this Morning at our Chrism Eucharist. He shared a lot more than this, including a moving account of his experience at the demolition ceremonies around St Michael's Residential School (read the record of +Logan's apology at the ceremony here) and the place of ritual in healing and calling to a new way of being...

During my time at University, I myself did reside at a St. Michael's Hall, I was intrigued.
I lived next door to Gilles Gauvreau on one side and James Woods on the other, and I dined with my friends, Gil Gauvreau and Jimmy Wald.

 Remaining Sections of my St. Mike's

That was not the only odd reality-reflection that went on there. It was positively Odd Thomas or The Shining at times. That, however, is beyond the pale of this post, and we must abdicate any keen interest for the time being.

What were the  "demolition ceremonies", and why was Bishop Logan in attendance? Why was he moved?
I mean, my Alma Mater eventually tore down my wing of St. Mike's, and the accounts say that all the eyes in the house were dry; no handkerchiefs dabbed tears, no wails were heard. Nor "huzzahs", for that matter. No one did a victory dance around the ruins, either.

The Globe And Mail:

Alert Bay residential school survivors gather for demolition ceremony
Wendy Stueck
Published Wednesday, Feb. 18 2015, 9:32 PM EST
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 19 2015, 1:55 PM EST
Josie Hanuse was five years old when she first came to St. Michael’s Indian Residential School, an imposing brick building in Alert Bay, B.C., off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

On Wednesday, she was back, carrying the same suitcase she’d been given as a parting gift by her parents in 1967, and sharing tears and embraces with other former students who had come from around the province and beyond to witness the symbolic demolition of St. Michael’s.

“I was one of those children who never came home,” Ms. Hanuse said after an emotional ceremony that included heavy equipment destroying the school’s front porch and the opportunity for former students to hurl rocks at the decrepit building’s façade.

The ceremony – punctuated by sobs, singing, prayers and drumming – was a symbolic watershed for former students such as Ms. Hanuse. It was also a reminder of the lasting, multigenerational impact of residential schools and the ripple effects in First Nations communities, decades after most schools have closed and years after Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a formal apology in the House of Commons in 2008.

Ms. Hanuse, for example, didn’t go back to live in the home where her parents had carefully packed the little suitcase for the journey they did not want her to take. By the time she left St. Michael’s at 14, her mother was dead and her father was deemed unable to care for his children because of his alcohol abuse. Ms. Hanuse went into foster care and began a cycle of drinking, gambling and drug addiction that ended 17 years ago, when she began what she calls her “healing journey.”

At Alert Bay, she took another step, along with others who threw rocks, lit candles and wept. One speaker urged survivors to see the ceremony as a turning point for aboriginal children, who are overrepresented in provincial child-welfare systems and at risk of being similarly overrepresented in prisons.

“I know the intergenerational impact,” Carla Voyageur, whose mother, father, grandfather and other relatives attended residential schools, told the gathering. “I have seen my share of dysfunction. I have seen my fair share of abuse. I have seen my fair share of addiction. And it is a direct effect of all of this,” she said, gesturing at the school.

More than half of aboriginal children live in poverty, and aboriginal youth are five times more likely to commit suicide than non-aboriginal youth, Ms. Voyageur said.

“We have to rise up and above the negative effects [of residential schools],” Ms. Voyageur said. “The time is now – to reclaim our children and ourselves.”

St. Michael’s, which was under administration of the Anglican church, opened as a co-ed facility in 1929 with a capacity for 200 students. Reports of abuse are common. Ms. Hanuse says she was sexually molested by a staff person at the school and hit so roughly on the head she was deafened in one ear.

Robert Joseph, a former student and current ambassador with the non-profit group Reconciliation Canada, says he was also abused there and, as a child, had no idea that other children across the country were going through the same thing. An estimated 160,000 children attended residential schools across Canada.

“We are here for all the other little children across the land who had to come to schools like this,” Mr. Joseph said.

St. Michael’s was part of a colonial system that removed children from their parents and made them vulnerable to physical, sexual, emotional and cultural abuse, Anglican Bishop Logan McMenamie told the gathering. “We failed you, we failed ourselves and we failed the creator,” he said, adding that the church was “sincerely sorry.”

Canada’s former department of Indian Affairs took over the school in 1969 and, after several years as a hostel, it closed in 1974 and was turned over to the Nimpkish Band. There was talk of redeveloping it, but its poor condition and bleak history worked against that idea. The building is expected to be fully demolished later this year.

“It was a release – a letting go,” Ms. Hanuse said of the ceremony. “It was the final part of my healing journey for my childhood.”

Bishop Logan was present at the demolition.

The Anglican Diocese Of British Columbia
Bishop Logan's Apology to Survivors in Alert Bay
Submitted by David.Brown on 26 February 2015 - 3:22pm
My name is Logan, I am Bishop of the islands. We have one community on the mainland, at Kingcome Inlet.

I am honoured and humbled to be with you today. I am honoured that I have been invited to be here; I am honoured to be invited onto your traditional lands; and I am honoured that I have the opportunity to speak to you today.

I honour all the survivors who are here today and thank you for your courage and fortitude. I came here today to do three things: to truth tell, to look for healing and to continue on the road of reconciliation. I want to open my heart to you today. When you look at my heart you will see a part of it which is dark and sad. It is dark and sad because we as Anglicans came here as part of a colonial power. When we arrived on this land we failed to see that the creator was present in the land, the sea and the sky. We failed to see the creator in you, in your customs, your traditions, your language and in the old ways.

We took your children away from you and placed them in schools like this one. In these schools these children experienced, physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and cultural abuse. On behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada and my diocese I am so very, very sorry. We failed you, we failed ourselves and we failed the creator...

Among the many impacts this had on me, I am most impressed by the time it takes for this reconciliation to come to pass.

We are told to turn the other cheek. I have said that that means to respond to an initial transgression with peace and love, since most people are, indeed, good people and will almost immediately realize that they have acted badly, and will apologize.

However, there are the few that do not, and hold off reconciliation between brother and brother for a long, long time; indeed for so long that those Temple offerings have passed away unused, for the brothers have not made up. (Matthew somewhere...)

Especially slow at reconciliation are large groups and corporate entities.

We are all human. We sin. We need to reconcile. If we do not reconcile, our sins denounce us in the parliament of the fullness of time. Our evils conspire to destroy us and all trace of us.
Evil is the urge to meaningless death, death without honor, death without courage.

And we really need to be speedy about the reconciliation, lest we breed generations of dysfunctional families, lest we create ghettoes of abuse, lest we create an atmosphere where the young may despair and wither, or where they may despair and pick up guns.


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