Indigenous Children of Canada are the Children of the Land!

A Moment with Our Prophet, Muhammad (S)

By Imam Zijad Delic

Day 233

Abu Dharr (r) asked the Prophet (S) to instruct him (r) and the Prophet (S) told him: “Speak the truth, even if it is bitter!” (Shu’ab Al Iman)

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَوْصِنِي قَالَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قُلِ الْحَقَّ وَإِنْ كَانَ مُرًّا ٍ

Source: Shu’ab Al Iman

Transliteration: “Qulil Haqqa Wa Law Kana Murra!”

If we would like to predict a success of a failure of our nation (Canada), we just have to look into our nation’s attitude towards our children (all children), including the Indigenous children – the children of the Land!

One part of Canada’s history is a horrific part that scares me the most – Residential Schools!

These schools have been operational in Canada for more than 160 years – 1830s to 1996.

Yes, you are right! Over 160 years!

It was a systemic not accidental act!

The last Residential School in Canada closed in 1996 was the Residential School in Saskatchewan…just one year after my arrival on the shores of Canada (1995)!

During those 166 years, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forcefully taken (abducted/kidnapped) from their families and placed into Residential Schools built purposefully far away from the families to lessen the interaction of children with the families.

The mission of the Residential Schools was to erase the collective memory of the indigenous identity – culture, language, spirituality, values, the family, etc.

The Indigenous children in those schools, as many survivors tell, were “living in fear!”

The physical and sexual abuse was their daily reality!

Many children died!

They were not lost, as some would say!

NO, they were stolen by settlers who did not show any sense of humanity towards the innocent and vulnerable children!!!

Different Canadian official reports suggest that 4,100 Indigenous children died in those schools; however, the alternative evidence presents that this number is much greater, as the last discovery of the mass grave in Kamloops proves it.

Yes, in 2021 we know more about the Residential Schools, but still the truth about these schools is hidden!

We have started the process of Reconciliation in 2008 BUT this process is very slow and does not promise much if we sincerely want to get to the bottom of the matter!

The term Reconciliation sound nice politically; however, if we only acknowledge the wrongs and apologize (yes, this is the first step in the process) but we do not rectify the wrong by stopping the wrong and returning to the victims their rights, the Reconciliation is just seen as the pure politics!

Yes, the change starts with the acknowledgement of the wrong, but if we still continue doing the same wrongs and work on covering the truth, we have a long way to go to attain the needed justice!

That is why we came here today to listen to the Indigenous brothers and sisters, to promise that we are with you all the way until justice is served, to speak the truth, even if it is bitter…even if it hurts!

And yes, it really hurts to know what we did to our own children!

My tradition encourages me to stand with the innocent and support them against any oppression!

Abu Dharr (r) asked the Prophet (S) to give him (r) and advice (an important guidance) and the Prophet (S) told him: “Speak the truth, even if it is bitter!” (Shu’ab Al Iman)

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَوْصِنِي قَالَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قُلِ الْحَقَّ وَإِنْ كَانَ مُرًّا ٍ

We listen and we speak the truth so that we speed up the realization of justice for our Indigenous sisters and brothers!

So, there is no way that we could trust this process of Reconciliation without knowing the whole Truth and realization of justice fully!

Being Just means being close to being Righteous: “Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.” (Qur’an 5:8)

اعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى

Besides listening, feeling for you (our Indigenous sisters and brothers), speaking the truth on your behalf, calling on the Government to rectify the injustice and realize justice, we are here with you to pray together as human brothers and sisters:

Our Creator! When we fail and/or do injustice to our human brothers and sisters, guide us to accept and acknowledge our mistakes (all our wrongs), apologize sincerely, rectify the wrongs by never returning to the wrongs and giving back the right(s) of those whom we wronged!

Humbling ourselves and apologizing sincerely to those whom we wronged, is the sign of meaningful faith/ethics and the strongest level of character!

Help us realize, our Creator, that if we do not care about the children of our Indigenous brothers and sisters, we will not care of anyone’s children including our own!

If we do not care of them – the Indigenous children – then we have lost the sense of humanity and the true sense of Canadianness (acceptance of others), that was one of the core values that inspired me to come to Canada!

O our Creator! Help us to develop a nation where religion is a part of healing, reconciliation, peace and hope!

Where religion promotes safety, dignity, freedom and potential of every person as a whole human being!

Where religious institutions encourage understanding, cooperation and mutual respect of all!

Where faithful people affirm the Creator’s love for all people…and especially for the vulnerable, weak and children!

Where no one uses religion as a force to gain advantages over others!

Where each individual lives his/her faith unhindered and unashamed!

Where kids grow safe and actualize their gifted potential – all kids including the Indigenous ones!

Our Kind, Merciful, Generous, Loving and Just Creator, if we forget You, DO NOT forget us!

Allahumma Amin!