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On Pentecost Sunday, 2014 each of our parishes received a chokecherry tree to plant on our parish lawns. We were given these trees to bless our churches after they were blessed by an Elder at a diocesan Pentecost service at All Saints' Cathedral. It was and is an act of reconciliation between the church and the First Peoples of this land. We all live, work and worship on Treaty 6 and 8 lands.

Each year, starting in 2015, Immanuel, Wetaskiwin has held a Heart Garden memorial event to remember the children who attended Residential Schools and especially those children who didn’t return. They have shared the story of Residential Schools, being honest about the church’s involvement. They have planted flowers, made hearts and memorial stones. The garden has been smudged and the people have remembered and learned.

There have been Messy Church Reconciliation events in a number of parishes in the diocese in the last year and a half. At each of these events we made hearts after listening to a story about Residential Schools. These hearts have become part of the closing worship and at a number of events we planted the hearts around the chokecherry tree.

These are all examples of our parishes commitment to reconciliation as a way of living as Jesus’ disciples and to learn from the Indigenous community that we share this good land with.

This year we cannot gather to remember, to celebrate resilience, to recommit ourselves to reconciliation as a community. I have an idea about how we can do this in a safe, physically distant way for Pentecost Sunday.

Gather the materials to make the hearts (listed below), place them in unused zipper plastic bags. Pass them out to parishioners (everyone can do this, not just families with children) and then have them ‘plant’ them around the chokecherry tree or in a heart garden if you have one. Then ask a worship leader to pray over them and bless them, this would be a good one to record and upload. We can make our reconciliation active and known to our communities. Don’t worry if any of the hearts disappear, it may be that a person needed the message on them.

Please take a photo of your reconciliation project and share it with me at I would like to make a photo collage to share with everyone. Thank you to everyone who participates.


Materials needed:
Card stock
Bamboo kebab skewers
Stickers (whatever you have available & what you think might be appropriate)
Ribbon - about 10 inches in length - two or three pieces per package
One marker per package
Instruction note (provided below)
Unused large zipper plastic bags

Instruction Note:

Many of you will remember the Truth and Reconciliation Events that took place across Canada at the beginning of the last decade. Many of you will have participated in the event that took place in Edmonton the spring of 2014. We are asking that you make a memorial heart for the children who attended Residential Schools and especially those children who did not return. The Diocese of Edmonton is committed to reconciliation with Indigenous people in our diocese. As part of that reconciliation commitment we need to remember and speak the truth about our church’s involvement in the running and management of Residential Schools and to say we are sorry for what our church did.

We are asking you to make a heart to place around or near the chokecherry tree on the lawn of the church.

Cut a heart out of your card stock. With the marker write on one side a message such as ‘We are sorry’, ‘We will remember’, ‘Children need to live at home’, ‘You are loved’. Feel free to come up with one that comes from your heart. Decorate the heart with the stickers and ribbon. Tape the bamboo skewer onto the back of the heart with strong tape.

Take your completed heart to your church and place it in the ground around or near your chokecherry tree. Please remember to observe physical distancing protocols when you go to the church. Thank you for showing that reconciliation is important to our life as Christians.