PEI

P.E.I. churches hold special Aboriginal service

A special Aboriginal service hosted by two Island churches is another step toward reconciliation, Aboriginal leaders say.

Gathering prompted by Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Keptin John Joe Sark, guardian of the spiritual and cultural integrity of the Mi'kmaq people, addresses the congregations on Sunday. (Jessica Doria-Brown)

A special Aboriginal service hosted by two Island churches is another step toward reconciliation, Aboriginal leaders say.

Trinity United Church, along with St. Paul's Anglican Church, held the service on Sunday. It was was prompted by the final report of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

"Over the years the church failed them in word and action, now it's time to be active in making things right," said Greg Davis, minister at Trinity United. "It's important to name the wrongs, but more important to go forward doing what is right."

Keptin John Joe Sark, a Mi'kmaq spiritual leader, said the service "meant a lot."

"It shows now that people are starting to understand," he said. "I think there was a lot of ignorance around what was really happening to our people, and now that they know, we'll be expecting a lot more from them also."

Sue Moxley, former Anglican Bishop for P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, hopes people will "get off their seat and do some things." (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

He says the best place to start is in schools.

"The school system doesn't give a good portrayal of the history of the Mi'kmaq people," he said.

Sunday's service featured music and performances by Mi'kmaq heritage actors.

The sermon acknowledged the Anglican and United churches' role in the history of the residential school system.

"For me one of the great things is a whole lot of people now have a whole lot more information so hopefully they'll have a lot more enthusiasm to get off their seat and do some things," said Sue Moxley, a former Anglican Bishop for P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

Sark said the event was much appreciated, and he'd like to see a similar initiative from Roman Catholic churches in Atlantic Canada.

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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