in response to the vandalism of a Ukrainian Catholic church in Calgary, in the wake of media coverage of Residential School burial site discoveries.
Dear Ukrainian Catholic Faithful,
Слава Ісусу Христу! Glory be to Jesus Christ!
Many of us were saddened earlier this week when we learned that the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Parish, Calgary, had been vandalized by individuals acting on their own—not once but twice, alongside many other Roman Catholic parishes throughout Calgary.
While the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Canada never ran Residential Schools, we can relate to the pain and suffering that our Indigenous brothers and sisters are enduring in the recent recovery of the graves of hundreds of children found in several cemeteries in western Canada.
The Ukrainian community readily acknowledges that if it were not for the help of the Indigenous Peoples, our ancestors would not have survived those first harsh winters in the late 1890s when Ukrainian immigration to Canada began, nor what medicines to use, nor how to navigate the land. The story of the meeting of our two peoples is most recently told in song and dance in the 2018 Ukrainian Shumka Dancers’ Ancestors and Elders production, a story of strength and sacred bond among peoples.
Dear faithful, the Indigenous Peoples in Canada now need our prayers, support and action as they seek truth and reconciliation regarding the tragedy of Residential Schools. If for no other reason, we can relate to their suffering and loss for we too know suffering and loss. Millions of our people were starved to death under the Soviet Communist Regime in the Holodomor Genocide of 1932-1933. In Canada, during World War I, thousands of our people were taken away from their families, stripped of all their possessions, and held in some 24 internment camps as enemy aliens, some whose burial sites are still unknown. And since 2014, some 13,000 have died and 30,000 wounded in the “forgotten war” in eastern Ukraine at the hands of Russian aggressors.
Dear parishioners of Assumption Parish, Calgary, I share in the hurt and pain caused you by the recent vandalism at your holy place of worship, and I pray that words of peace and reconciliation prevail over criminal acts of vandalism and hate.
Dear faithful, but now, above all, it is a time to listen attentively to our Indigenous brothers and sisters, no matter how painful the reality of Residential Schools. They must speak. We must listen. Only then will truth be told, and heard, with the hope of reconciliation and a strengthening of the bond of our two peoples.