BY SISTER UNA BYRNE
On September 30, the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we chose to bring into our liturgical celebration elements of the culture and ritual of our indigenous brothers and sisters as a way of honouring their traditions. It was also a way of showing our sorrow and acknowledgment of the denigration of these traditions by our ancestors and members of our church.
We wanted to find healing and reconciliation. We wanted to show our desire to stand with them in their struggles for recognition of the wrongs of the past and the pain that they have suffered. Yet we know that racism and effects of colonialism exist to this day. So, as we acknowledged
the traditional homelands on which our chapel stands, we asked the Great Spirit to allow us to show our indigenous sisters and brothers that we support them in their ongoing struggle for a just and respectful relationship with all the peoples of Canada.
Orange adorned the chapel ambo and walls, and many of the Sisters wore orange as a reminder of the suffering and disrespect indigenous children suffered in Residential Schools. In front of the altar, we draped a star blanket that holds deep meaning and traditions linked to indigenous culture, birth, life and death, and symbolizes peace. Placed on the blanket were the four sacred plants – tobacco, sweet grass, cedar and sage.