On behalf of the YAAY Committee, thank you for a great Regional Meeting this past weekend! It was good to see everyone come together as a community again. We are looking forward to taking on our new role as a voting member of the Executive Committee. Thank you for the opportunity! As the YAAY Committee, we are so grateful to the region for all the opportunities that you provide to the youth here.

We would also like to acknowledge something that many of us spent time thinking about this weekend, the news of the 215 children found at the Kamloops Residential School. In acknowledging this tragedy, we believe it’s important to recognize that the church, the same institution which is so supportive of us today, actively prevented Indigenous youth from learning spiritual and life skills from their families and communities while being forced to attend residential schools run by the United Church until 1969. The news of these 215 children makes us wonder how many lives were taken at the 15 schools run by the United Church of Canada.

We are thankful for the prayers offered by people like Rev. Murray Pruden and Rev. Richard Bott. We also recognize that prayers are never going to make up for the pain and trauma inflicted by this church that we call home. We would invite you to join us in donating to an organization that supports survivors of the residential school system and their families, or you can take a mutual aid approach and directly support survivors and families of survivors.

Organizations that we have found are the Indian Residential School Survivor’s Society in BC and the UCC Healing Fund   which funds both UCC and non-UCC Indigenous initiatives. Organizations local to you doing similar work are also looking for financial support and we encourage you to take steps to support them as you are able.

Thank you,

Marissa Smirl and Julia Antonyshyn

Co-convenors, YAAY Committee