Every Child Matters

Taking Responsibility

As Christ followers we are thoughtfully considering the meaning behind the words: “truth and reconciliation” in light of the tragic history of the residential school system in Canada, and the Church’s role in the abuse of vulnerable children. Every child had a story. Perhaps not written anywhere that we can all see. But written on God’s heart.

While we absorb the painful news of hundreds of unmarked graves of Aboriginal children – knowing that there will be more such grievous discoveries – Hope Story is proceeding prayerfully in what it means to engage with the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

This is particularly relevant, as we partner with a First Nations-led church in Thunder Bay, New Hope Community Fellowship, in support of the New Hope Youth Centre.

We are here to extend our support. Working towards a future where children can write their own story – and not have their stories erased.

Today, many of us are wondering how reconciliation can occur. There are no quick answers. Hope Story’s work is centred around the Gospel message that Christ is our hope story, and we have a vision for a world where every child reaches their full potential through the love and sacrifice of Christ’s Church.

As we join in mourning for this tragic chapter in Canada’s not so distant past, and grieve the abuses against vulnerable children, Hope Story seeks to help build reconciliation through lasting relationships with First Nations-led churches in Canada.

The love and sacrifice of Christ on the cross gives us a way forward here. We realize that admission of sin, and acceptance of forgiveness, and actions of love pave the way to reconciliation with God and with others.

At Hope Story we believe in communication through storytelling, and Dr. Terry LeBlanc*, who is Mi’kmaq/Acadian, provides a story which we find offers a helpful perspective:

“When I was a young boy, my grandfather, father, and I travelled some distance from our home community to go fishing at a spot ‘known only to my grandfather.’ Having driven as far as roads would take us, we got out of my grandfather’s old beater, and gathering our gear, set out on the trail toward this favourite fishing spot. We soon found ourselves in the middle of a deep, dark woods making our way along a narrow trail where, with each passing step, the way ahead and behind became less and less perceptible. On more than a few occasions I expressed my concern to my grandfather; each time he sought to reassure me.

Finally, unable to hold in my anxiety, fearful about what lay ahead of us, even more anxious that the way back would never again be found, I tugged frantically on my Grandfather’s arm. “Grandfather, Grandfather,” I cried out, “We’ll be lost! We’ll be lost!” Sensing the rising fear in me, my Grandfather knelt down, and after reassuring me more fully, taught me a lesson, one that has guided my thinking and actions from that day to this. In the mixture of languages that was his habit of speech, he told me that each new trail we take could seem like it leads along an uncertain path; the way back can seem unclear, obscured by the landscape. “But,” he said, “When you set out on a new trail, if you spend twice as much of your time looking over your shoulder at where you have come from as you do where you are going; if you fix the landmarks behind you in your mind the way they will appear to you when you turn to take the trail back, you will never become lost – you will always be able to find your way home.”

That day my grandfather gave me the ability to find my way to and from all of the various destinations in life that would lie before me; all of which, as I set out on each new trail, were initially unknown.”

In this same article, Terry LeBlanc goes on to state why we must, as Christ followers, take an honest view of our country’s history:
“To deny our need to know the whole story of our Christian past is to suggest that the settler definition of Christian faith, central to the drive of the colonial enterprise, is the one we still hold to and support.”
*Terry LeBlanc is the founding chair and current Director of NAIITS: An Indigenous Learning Community. He serves as adjunct professor at Acadia Divinity College, Sioux Falls Seminary, the University of Divinity in Melbourne, and Tyndale University College and Seminary. The above story is from Consensus, A Canadian Journal of Public theology, "Walking in Reconciled Relationships," Consensus: Vol. 37 : Iss. 1 , Article 4.

Making A Start

A few years ago, Hope Story began looking at how partnerships in Canada could serve vulnerable youth. In consultation with a number of Christian First Nations leaders across Canada, we eventually connected with New Hope Fellowship Church in Thunder Bay.

New Hope is led by First Nations elders (the church’s constitution requires a majority of the leadership remain First Nations). The Church also runs the city’s only drop-in centre - New Hope Youth Centre - that specifically serves First Nations youth.

We asked: what can we do? Our first step: partner with New Hope Fellowship Church in support of New Hope Youth Centre.

We believe this is just the beginning of Hope Story' work in Canada, fitting within the approach we believe we should take globally – always partnering with an indigenous-led church to offer our support to expand upon the service they are already offering their own community.

Local, in-country church partners lead all of Hope Story’s work around the world including Canada. Our indigenous partners work in ways which are culturally relevant and sensitive to the child’s context, culture and individual needs.

Walk with us as Hope Story travels this path towards reconciliation in Canada, knowing that we serve a God of kindness and forgiveness and restoration.