The founder of Turtle Lodge is inviting people of all spiritualities and denominations to join them Sunday as they come together in healing.

Elder Dr. Dave Courchene (Nii Gaani Aki Inini) is glad to see people come together to honour the 215 children found buried at Kamloops Residential School.

"I think everyone is feeling the impact of these children that have been uncovered. The elders see, as tragic as it is, I think it can bring us closer together as humanity. We should be sharing in that grief, whatever spiritual beliefs that one may have," Courchene says.


Listen to the full conversation here


Knowledge Keepers decided earlier this week Sunday's National Day of Prayer would be in response to the inability to mourn together in the ceremony. They are asking for prayers for the children, residential school survivors, and their families. 

Courchene says that time is important, and is glad to see Christians are joining them in prayer.

"The Christians certainly have their way of performing their acts of prayer also, and I know that the Christian people have to reflect on the past for Native People, you know, we have to continue to hope that people will come to recognize and acknowledge that we are just as human as anyone else."

He believes that one day, humanity will be united with the spirit of kindness prevailing. 


Rights of all children

"I would think these children have been covered for a reason. It is not by accident or coincidence. These children are reminders to love each other. To take care of each other and to support the rights of a child.," the elder says. "Our children should be the motivation to get together."

Courchene says children are the most important thing, born with rights. He wants to see this being discussed by people of influence. 

"You have to revolutionize the whole education system to include that part of understanding diversity and acknowledging that we all have a purpose, here, as human beings."

The elder hopes to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau around a sharing circle one day.

"I wouldn't mind sitting down with the Prime Minister of this country, in that spirit of respect, that we could sit down and talk, ask the question of 'what can we do together to make our world a better place?"

On Friday, the Prime Minister addressed the hesitancy of churches to release records in a press conference.

"As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the position that the Catholic Church has taken now and over the past many years. When I went to the Vatican a number of years ago, I asked His Holiness, Pope Francis, to move forward on apologizing on asking for forgiveness, on restitution, on making these records available, and we are still seeing resistance from the church, possibly from the church in Canada," Trudeau says.

He is asking Catholics to make it clear to their parishes and Bishops that there is an expectation to take responsibility for their role in residential schools.

The United Nations is calling on churches to disclose their residential school documents, which is one of the Truth and Reconciliation Committees' 94 calls to action

The Government of Canada also has not been open about sharing records, including the Supreme Court of Canada allowing for the destroying of tons of papers with residential school information, which they said was for confidentiality.


Love, not hate

Instead of responding with hate or anger, Indigenous people have responded with love.

"The people are beginning to recognize that the answer to what we are facing in the world is the simple spirit of love and kindness," Courchene says. "I was told many times that it would be the people of the heart that would change the world. You can't take identity away from an individual and what they believe. What is important is that spirit of kindness."

He says kindness can go beyond the struggles of today, including in caring for the earth. Courchene says he seeks comfort in the land when he prays, something other Indigenous people commonly do.