Parishioners from two Winnipeg churches are acknowledging past wrongs with a pilgrimage to the former site of a residential school in the city on Good Friday.
"We've been trying to figure out ways to continue to build relationships with indigenous communities," said Westworth United Church Rev. Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd. "We're … trying to be responsible for our past."
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People will walk to the former site of the Assiniboia Residential School at Academy Road and Kenaston Boulevard. It operated as a Roman Catholic residential school for indigenous children until 1973, Shepherd said.
"We now realize the damage that has been caused by tearing children out of their families and their communities." she said.
St. Andrew's River Heights United Church Rev. Cathy Kinsman said Theodore "Ted" Fontaine, a survivor of the school, declined their invitation to join the walk.
"He said, 'I think that that walk is something you need to do for yourselves,' because it is our story to confess and to offer the apology," Kinsman said.
Some churches ask why they should apologize for something that happened in the past and say they had nothing to do with residential schools, Kinsman said.
"But our churches do benefit significantly from our past," she said. "It's living out our call as a Christian people to be welcoming of all people, supportive and having conversations so that these things don't happen again."
Anyone from the community is welcome to join the walk, Shepherd said.
The walk begins at 9 a.m. with a reflection on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls at Westworth United Church on Grosvenor Avenue. A volunteer carrying a six-foot cross made for the walk will then lead the way to the former Assiniboia Residential School for a scripture reading and a confession of the church's role in residential schools.
The walk will end at St. Andrew's United Church on Oak Street with reflections on homelessness, discrimination against LGBTQ people and suffering refugees.