Sudbury's Church of the Epiphany bells to ring 1,181 times for missing, murdered aboriginal women
Project by the Anglican Church of Canada coincides with closing of Truth and Reconciliation Commission
A Sudbury church hopes the sound of its bells will help people take a moment to understand the damage inflicted by Indian residential schools.
Anglican churches across the country, including the Church of the Epiphany in Sudbury, will spend the next three weeks using their bells to honour the 1,181 missing or murdered aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
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"Each time you hear the bell, that is a human life that we are marking, that we are not allowing to be forgotten," said Derek Neal, ministry intern at the Anglican Church or the Epiphany in Sudbury.
"We hope that it will bring attention to this issue. It may prompt people to ask questions. That it will also simply stir in peoples' hearts a spirit of remembrance for these women."
The project by the Anglican Church of Canada, which they are calling 22 Days, coincides with the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in Ottawa from May 31 to June 3.
The commission was created to document the stories of residential school survivors and to aid in the healing and reconciliation for aboriginal and non-aboriginal people.
"That new relationship, that building of a new future can't begin unless we take a keen interest in each others' struggles," Neal said.
The high number of missing and murdered aboriginal women is believed to be related to the multi-generational trauma caused by residential schools, Neal said.
Indian residential schools were designed to destroy indigenous culture and assimilate aboriginal children into Canadian society.
As a result, families were torn apart. Many people also suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse while they were students.
The Anglican church operated 36 of the residential schools across the country.
There were three schools in northeastern Ontario: Bishop Horden Memorial School, Moose Factory, St. John's Indian Residential School in Chapleau and Shingwauk Indian Residential School, Sault Ste. Marie.
Michael Cachagee attended all three Anglican schools in northeastern Ontario between 1944 and 1957.
"There has to be life thereafter and I have been encouraged when churches and communities do that because that is where I think we are going to reconcile," he said.
"That's where it has to begin. It has to begin in the grassroots."
The Anglican Church of Canada has left it up to individual churches to determine how to use their bells to honour missing and murdered aboriginal women.
The Church of the Epiphany has chosen to use a peel of the bells to honour each life, Neal said.
The bells will ring on the hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday until June 21, which is National Aboriginal Day.
The church is seeking volunteers who would like to take part in ringing the bells, but church officials will ensure the bells have been rung. Anyone who is interested can contact the church at (705) 675-2279.