Why 160 Is Not "Just" A Number

Jul 14, 2021 by Julia Van Huizen

Updated: Sep 23, 2023

Topics: Family & Parenting , Community Posts

Why 160 is not "just" a number.

160. It sounds like “just a number.” But it’s the latest amount of unmarked and undocumented graves found at another residential school site off the British Columbia coast in Canada.

For the past number of weeks, the news has been filled with these numbers. Numbers that signify immense tragedy. Intense shock. Staggering horror in Canada’s past and people.

But if I’m not careful, these findings of “more numbers” can cause me to disengage. To treat this news as “just news.” To stop thinking of ways to be a part of the solution.

Admittedly, I find it hard to know how to respond. I am at a loss. But I am determined to do a few small things to keep my heart softened:

1. IMAGINE: Although it’s hard, I’m trying to imagine who those 160 little people were. What did they look like? How old were they? What was their family life like before this tragedy? I find it painful, but helpful to think about my own kids. What would it have been like if MY child was ripped away from me? When I think of these situations, I admit, I feel very uncomfortable. But it helps me relate. To really sympathize for my fellow Canadians who have been struggling ever since these tragic actions occurred.

2. LISTEN: We’ve been hearing a lot from Indigenous people. In the news. In person. And I can listen. I can be patient. I can hear their hearts and allow them to feel their feelings of pain.

3. MOURN & PRAY: I love the verse in Romans 8:26 that reads: “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” I love this verse because it really helps me pray for Canada and the Indigenous people. I often feel at a loss about what to do. I literally just feel shame and remorse and helplessness. But I figure I can direct those feelings to God. To say to Him, “Take my groans, Jesus. Help me to know what to do.”

Today I invite you to join me in imagining. Listening. Mourning. I invite you to join me in prayer—or groaning!—for Canada, and especially for our Indigenous friends. Because I want to keep my heart soft and open, and I hope you do too. Because then we’ll be ready to hear from Jesus to know how to act and feel and pray.

In Him,

James Hunt

CEO | UCB Canada