Anglicans across the diocese are being encouraged to give to a special memorial in Toronto that honours the survivors and those who died at Canada’s Residential Schools.
The Spirit Garden is planned for the southwest corner of Nathan Phillips Square, a highly visible area near city hall. At the centre of the garden will be a turtle sculpture, designed by an Anishinaabe artist, that names the 17 residential schools that operated in Ontario. Plans for the site include a reflecting pond, a walkway, a voyageur canoe, an Inukshuk and a timber-frame teaching lodge. There will be places for contemplation, celebrations and ceremonies.
The Spirit Garden is a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action #82, which calls for the installation of monuments to the legacy of the Residential Schools in each provincial capital.
As part of its healing and reconciliation efforts, the diocese made a $300,000 gift to the garden last May in the form of a tithe from the Ministry Allocation Fund. It plans to tithe annually for the next five years to First Nations’ causes and initiatives.
Bishop Andrew Asbil encourages parishes and individuals to support the Spirit Garden. “It will take generations to undo the pain and suffering caused by our forebears and indeed ourselves through systemic neglect of First Nations peoples in Canada. The Spirit Garden project is one step in the journey of recovery, and I invite your support.”
He also invites parishes to promote the Spirit Garden during June, which is National Indigenous History Month, and especially on June 19, National Indigenous Sunday.
“A deep healing is required, one that will involve painful honesty, a complete re-evaluation of our shared history, and an intense examination of how we want to be in relationship with each other going forward,” he says. “We need to engage in this work with humility and an earnest desire for renewal. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to do nothing less.”
Anglicans can give to the Spirit Garden through their parish FaithWorks campaigns or on the FaithWorks website, www.faithworks.ca. A video by Bishop Asbil about the Spirit Garden will also be available on the website.
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