Genocide, Domicide and the Unnamed


Gathering with a group of folks to debrief our symposium “Beyond Housing to Homefulness” I offered this reflection on the tragically home-breaking events from Palestine to Kamloops to London, Ontario of the last few weeks. You can listen to the reflection using the media player above, or read the text below.

We know their names.

Talat Afzaal.
Her son, Salman Afzaal.
His wife, Madiha Salman.
Their teenage daughter, Yumna Afzaal.

All dead.

And their youngest child, nine year old Fayez Afzaal, left orphaned.

We know their names.

We know where they came from.
We know something of the love and respect
in which they were held by the community.

And we know who killed four out of the five members of that family
out for a Sunday evening stroll.

And, if we can trust the reports, we know why.

We know why this family was targeted,
why this home was destroyed.

Just as there is no homefulness without love,
so also is hate invariably a force of homelessness.

Religious and ethnic hatred, all forms of xenophobia,
and … as we saw during our symposium …
all racism, homo and transphobia,
together with classism and anthropocentrism,
… it all results in homelessness.

We know their names,
this Pakistani Muslim family in London.

And if we wanted to,
we could know the names
of those whose homes were destroyed
in Gaza and the Palestinian territories over the last month.

It was not lost on Andrew, Michael and I
that as we were winding up our symposium on homefulness
devastating acts of domicide,
violent displacement, and ethnic hatred
were intensifying yet again in Israel and Palestine.

If it is true that homefulness requires
sustainability, then the devastation of Palestine
is an intentional policy of homelessness.

If it is true that homefulness requires
safe and stable tenure in a place,
then the apartheid policies of Israel,
are clearly domicidal in character.

If it is true that homefulness
can only occur in the context of rich social relationships,
then the homemaking of oppressed peoples is only achieved
against the odds, and in the face of an opposition that would
break down the social fabric of the community.

And if it is true that any satisfying homefulness
needs to find its way
in the midst of a community,
housing and natural context
that is beautiful and attractive,
then the generations long attack on Palestinian villages and farms
is a practice of stripping people of hope, joy, and beauty.

And … if we care to find out … we can know the names
of those whose homes were destroyed on so many levels
over the last number of weeks in Palestine.

But we do not know the names of the 215.

215 children buried
in an unmarked grave
at the Kamloops Indian
Residential school.

215 unnamed, dishonoured,
discarded bodies.
215 children representing
so many more broken homes.

215 children, stripped from their homes,
left to be forgotten in the homelessness of the grave.

215 children, a horrid testimony to the deep and devastating
assault on the homes of Indigenous people
by people who all believed in family values.

To call this “cultural genocide” is too kind,
too generous, too weak.

No, this was genocide, pure and simple.
And genocide is always domicide.

O Canada, our home and native land.
Without the natives.
Without ever being native to this land.

O Canada, how do I make my home in thee,
with the national household haunted
by these children?

O Canada, how can homefulness flourish,
rooted in such a tale of violent home destruction?

O Canada, how can we seek reconciliation,
how can we seek homemaking together,
unless the truth is told,
unless the story be narrated in its full horror,
unless all the graves are opened?

As we gathered over four weeks
for our “Beyond Housing to Homefulness” symposium,
we were intentional about acknowledging the Indigenous peoples
on whose land we gathered from across North America.

Sitting this evening on the south shore of Balsam Lake
in the municipality of Kawartha Lakes
I acknowledge the Mississaugas Anishinabeg
of Alderville First Nation,
Curve Lake First Nation,
Hiawatha First Nation,
Scugog Island First Nation,
the Chippewas of Beausoleil First Nation,
Georgina Island First Nation
and the Rama First Nation.

These nations are all signatories of the Williams Treaty (1923)
and Treaty 20(1818).

I invite you to take a moment now to acknowledge
in your own hearts the land in which you dwell this evening,
and give humble thanks for the Indigenous inhabitants of that land.

Let us pray.
You know their names, O Lord.
You know their families.
You know the broken homes.

And it breaks your heart.

You know their names, O Lord.
You know who did this to these children.
You know that it was all done in your name.

And it breaks your heart.

You know our names, O Lord.
You know how far we have strayed from home.
You know our broken stories, our practices of home-breaking.

And it breaks our heart.

You know our names, O Lord.
You name us beloved and invite us to come home.
You name us as homemakers, called to homefulness.

And it renews our broken hearts.

Homemaking Creator,
Homecoming Redeemer,
Spirit of all homefulness,
Our hearts are homeless until they find their home in Thee.

Show us the way home.
Help us to be healers of the breach.
Restorers of streets for living in.
Makers of homes for healing.



Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

One Response to “Genocide, Domicide and the Unnamed”

  1. Jordan Duerrstein

    Thanks for this Brian. Beautiful prayer.


Leave a Reply