Brander McDonald is soft-spoken. He moves about the room with quiet dignity, avoiding eye contact while he presents a workshop exploring indigenous worldviews at Native Assembly 2014. He admits to being a shy youngster, but there is more to his demeanour than being reserved. “My grandmother taught me that I shouldn’t look someone in the eye when I first meet them,” he says.
God at work in the World
There’s an imbalance here. Of the 250-ish gathered for Native Assembly 2014, indigenous participants are overwhelmingly outnumbered by non-native folks.
A few months ago, planners were concerned that not enough white church folks would attend. But this turnabout troubles me. Dominant people can often become dominant voices. So I’m trying to listen more and say less.
Indigenous issues are charged, complex and unappealing to many Canadians. Understandably so.
Competing histories and intricate legalities combine with strong sentiments to create a sort of national quagmire. No one feels comfortable about the situation of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, but meaningful change often seems impossible.
Hannah Martens (left), Cindy Klassen, and Rebecca Janzen enjoy each other’s company at the “GO” booth where Martens and Janzen earned money for MCC by running and biking on the stationary equipment.
Alberta Mennonites have few opportunities for large fellowship gatherings. While the annual Mennonite Central Committee relief sale is a huge amount of work, when the weekend arrives, the atmosphere is decidedly celebratory.
The Niagara-area Mennonite churches celebrated the 40th anniversary of the thrift stores in this area on March 24 with a dinner and potluck dessert. Over 200 past and present volunteers attended.
Josephine and Garcie Cogar of Webster Springs, W.V., test out their new walking bridge that connects their home to the community. It was built by Mennonite Disaster Service volunteers as part of the organization’s efforts after Hurricane Sandy devastated the eastern seaboard of the U.S. in 2012. MDS and community volunteers can be seen in the background. (MDS photo by Paul Hunt)
Thirteen metres isn’t a long walk, but it can be a difficult journey when the creek between your house and the rest of your community is running high and the bridge across it is out.
Cheryl A. (Francis) Peters, right, holding the MCC blanket given her, in turn gives Forrest Johnstone a sparkling ball she had recently purchased for herself. Peters says she wanted to give one of her possessions to the child.
The former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School in Mission drew 50 Fraser Valley Mennonites on May 10 to hear stories of history and culture by the Stó:lō Nation leadership.
Justice Murray Sinclair proudly and lovingly put his arm around Sarah, his granddaughter. “Tomorrow is one of the most important days in my life, the birthday of my granddaughter,” he said of the eight-year-old. “Many of the children taken from families and placed in residential schools were even younger than this. Whenever I do my work, I think about her.
Earlier this year, World Vision U.S. announced a landmark policy change that would permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed by the Christian aid organization.
I was standing beside Neill Von Gunten, former co-director of Mennonite Church Canada Native Ministries, and trying to peer over heads to see into the “Churches Listening Area” at the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) national event in Edmonton last month. An aboriginal leader had just prayed, and a church leader suggested a song; “We are Marching in the Light of God.”
Anabaptist leaders present a blanket and a statement for inclusion in the Bentwood Box, a repository for offerings and commemorations at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event in Edmonton last month. Standing with the TRC commissioners and survivor representatives are Tim Dyck of the Evangelical Mennonite Conference, centre, and Hilda Hildebrand of Mennonite Church Canada, fifth from left.
The following statement was presented at the final Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in Edmonton in March.
Because Jesus asked us to love our neighbours, a group of Christians from Winnipeg were willing to walk 550 kilometres to honour and remember their indigenous brothers and sisters who have survived the Indian Residential School (IRS) system. I was one of the organizers of this journey, which we called the Honour Walk.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is in the closing stretch of its five-year mandate.
Irene Crosland adds some prairie sage to the sacred fire burning outside one of the main entrances to the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, the site of the seventh and final national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) event. She wrote this poem as a result of her experiences at the TRC event.
Gathering crowd surges
Residential School survivors
This is my time
Throbbing drum beats
Tonal language singing
Bowed shoulders quake
Remembering robbed childhood
Secrets buried deeply
Angry man turns
According to Ernie Regehr, for statistical purposes a war is defined as political fighting—not criminal violence—that engages the security forces of the state; as well, it is a situation in which “at least 1,000 people [combatants and civilians] have been killed directly by the fighting during the course of the conflict, and 25 or more are killed annually.”
Recent weeks have been a financial roller coaster ride for Joan Carolyn and Daniel Epp, the program director and associate for Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) Winnipeg, respectively.
What do Mennonites and former gang members have in common? “Not much,” one might be tempted to reply. But at a recent Saskatoon conference they sat side-by-side learning about gang intervention and prevention, and the way back to a healthy life.
As Syrians continue to watch their nation disintegrate, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has become a leading Canadian responder there. Its long-standing relationships in the area mean it can work both in refugee camps outside Syria and in some of the hardest hit areas within the country, supporting various local partners, including churches.