קוֹל דְּמֵי אָחִיךָ צֹעֲקִים אֵלַי מִן־הָאֲדָמָה
Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. (Genesis 4:10)
We, the members of the Toronto Board of Rabbis, reach out in sorrow and in solidarity with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and Indigenous communities throughout the country. The discovery of the bodies of 215 children on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School has reopened wounds that have festered for decades. No parent should ever have to mourn a child, nor be denied the chance to provide that child a proper burial. We pray that the grieving families and communities find a measure of comfort in providing a proper resting place for these children who were denied their life and their heritage.
These 215 children represent a small number of those who died in the care of Canadian Residential Schools and Canada has much to do to make amends for the mistreatment inflicted on these innocents.
Words are not sufficient to atone for the abuse of our First Nations at the hands of Canada. Through our actions and deeds, we must ensure that nothing like this ever takes place here again. We teach in our holy scriptures that “Justice, justice shall you pursue.” As a community that has also experienced displacement and knows the pain of children murdered and buried in mass graves, we call on the Canadian government to fulfill all the commitments outlined by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Our tradition teaches that the first human being was created singularly so that no person or group could say they are better than another. We pray with you that this lesson will be one that is seared in the hearts and minds of every Canadian so that tragedies like this will never occur on this soil again. May we learn to live and respect each other in peace and dignity.