By Laura Latimer of Wilkie, SK
Last night , June 10th, 2021, I attended a vigil in Wilkie, SK to remember and memorialize the 215 dead children from the Kamloops Residential School and it was one of the most moving events of my life.
The first speaker was a Metis woman, Helen Urlacher, who spoke of the suffering that happened to Residential School students. Next another Metis woman whose mother and mother-in-law had been at Residential school; her sad story was that her mother-in-law had been raped, became pregnant and afterwards was sterilized
Then Rev. Yongseok Baek , the Minister of Wilkie and Cutknife United Church spoke. He acknowledged the horrible suffering and the Christian churches’ role in that suffering. He apologized not once, but many times, the last time in a whisper and people wept. He said a powerful prayer acknowledging the children taken from their families, some never to return, not even their bodies for their families to grieve and bury. The prayer acknowledged people’s loss, their brokenness, their emptiness, and he apologized.
Rev. Baek apologized with the Korean sign of respect, 2 deep bows, getting down on his knees in the wet grass and bowing low to the ground , getting up, then a second time down on his knees and bowing to the ground again.
The gathered people lit candles and walked to the Wilkie United Church where a wreath and little shoes were placed and there was 2 min and 15 sec. of silence.
Later some of the survivors expressed gratitude for the words of acknowledgement, for the chance to grieve together, and for the apology from the Wilkie United Church.