“The fourth medicine, sweetgrass, is the hair of our Mother the Earth. You pick those grass blades one at a time. You aren’t supposed to pull the root up, because if you do that, there won’t be more sweet grass next time. The other thing is the sweet grass, too, is like our women’s hair and our men’s hair; we braid it together to represent the mind the body and the spirit. The sweetgrass, if you look at the bottom, it’s purple. Purple represents to us the colour of community. The other thing the sweetgrass teaches – with one, you can easily destroy it, as you’ve said, but when we braid it together and we come together as community, as family, as friends – we’re strong. Can’t break us. And I am presenting this to you, for your Sukkah.” – Elder Catherine Brooks
Today, September 30, is a new federal statutory holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day provides an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour their survivors, their families and communities.
May God remember the flutes and drums confiscated, the torn clothing, and the great and bitter cry of parents for their children. (Esther 4)
Truth was cast down, hidden in the earth (Daniel 8:12), and now Truth shall spring forth from the ground (Tehillim 85:12).
May we, who have sat by the river and wept, recognize our role in indigenous displacement. We stand idly by; May we be awakened to the blood which cries to us from the earth.
Search for Truth so that one day, Reconciliation may come.
This past Sunday, Holy Blossom Temple presented tobacco grown at the Leo Baeck Day School to an Elder and to staff from the Anishnawbe Health Foundation. We heard stories from the children of survivors, and songs of mourning and rebirth. We learned that the stories of government-sponsored persecution of our people echo with this people, in this land. We committed to an ongoing relationship, with the first step of education. We will continue to feel bound to this covenant of learning and action as long as the Jerusalem stone floor to our Atrium is embedded on this soil.
Please, take time to read the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission today.
Listen to the story of Elder Catherine Brooks’s mother, a Residential school survivor, told at Holy Blossom earlier this week.
Today we learn. Today we mourn. And tomorrow, we consider what it means to weave ourselves closer to our Indigenous neighbours, learning what steps are needed to begin reconciliation.
אֵל מָלֵא רַחֲמִים, שׁוֹכֵן בַּמְּרוֹמִים, הַמְצֵא מְנוּחָה נְכוֹנָה תַּחַת כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה, בְּמַעֲלוֹת קְדוֹשִׁים וּטְהוֹרִים כְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ מַזְהִירִים, אֶת נִשְׁמוֹת כָּל אַחֵינוּ וְאַחְיוֹתֵינוּ בְּנֵי וּבְנוֹת הָאָרֶץ הַזּוֹ וְהָעַמִּים הַיְּלִידִים, אֲנָשִׁים, נָשִׁים וְטַף, שֶׁנֶּהֶרְגוּ, שֶׁנִּשְׂרְפוּ, שֶׁנִּתְלוּ ,שֶׁנֶּחְנְקוּ, וְשֶׁנֶּעֶקְרוּ מֵעַל אַדְמָתָם וּמִמָּסוֹרוֹתֵיהֶם הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת שֶׁנִּמְחֲקוּ בְּשֶׁל גִּזְעָנוּת וְשִׂנְאַת חִנָּם, בְּגַן עֵדֶן תְּהִי מְנוּחָתָם. אָנָּא בַּעַל הָרַחֲמִים, הַסְתִּירֵם בְּסֵתֶר כְּנָפֶיךָ לְעוֹלָמִים וּצְרוֹר בִּצְרוֹר הַחַיִּים אֶת נִשְׁמוֹתֵיהֶם. ה’ הוּא נַחֲלָתָם, וְיָנוּחוּ בְּשָׁלוֹם עַל מִשְׁכָּבָם. וְנֹאמַר אָמֵן.
God full of compassion, dwelling on High, find perfect rest beneath the sheltering wings of Your Presence, among the holy and the pure who shine with the light of the heavens, for the souls of our brothers and sisters, our neighbours, the children of this land, men, women, children, who have been killed, burned, strangled, torn asunder, uprooted from their land and had their sacred traditions erased because of racism and baseless hate. May the Garden of Eden be their resting place. Oh please, Master of compassion, keep them in the shelter of Your wings for eternity and bind up their souls in the bond of life. The Source of All is their inheritance; may they rest in peace, and let us say, Amen.