Congregations from two United churches in Winnipeg made a Good Friday pilgrimage to the site of a former residential school in the neighbourhood, in a bid to encourage reconciliation.
About two dozen people walked and carried a large cross from Westworth United Church to the site of the former Assiniboia Residential School at Academy Road and Kenaston Boulevard on Friday morning.
It operated as a Roman Catholic residential school for indigenous children until 1973, said Rev. Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd of the Westworth United Church, which hosted the walk along with the St. Andrew's River Heights United Church.
When the group arrived at the building, they paused for a moment of reflection and issued an apology for the United Church's role in the Canadian residential school system.
"Our particular congregation has been trying to find ways to develop relationships with indigenous communities. That is our top priority in our outreach and in our way of offering solidarity," MacKenzie Shepherd said.
"We also know that we have this legacy of residential schools and take responsibility for that. So one of the ways that we can offer this solidarity, I think, is to confess our role in the past, which continues in some ways into the future. The effects of those schools certainly continue."
Church hopeful about reconciliation
MacKenzie Shepherd said Good Friday is an appropriate day to reflect on the pain and suffering that is experienced by many indigenous Canadians who were forced to attend residential schools.
However, she added that Easter Sunday gives an opportunity to look forward to better days and hope that the suffering and pain is not the last word.
"Sunday gives us good news. Sunday gives us an assurance that love is the last word, not hate, not violence, not destruction," she said. "I am hopeful about our steps towards reconciliation."
Members of the two churches also reflected on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and on the plight of poor people in the community.