KAMLOOPS UNITED CHURCH
KAMLOOPS, BRITISH COLUMBIA
• Location: in the city’s downtown
• Membership: about 250 families
In response to the refugee crisis unfolding as front page news last year, residents of Manitoulin Island in north- ern Ontario began an unprecedented cooperative effort.
Little communities of faith across the island, which lies
along the north shore of Lake Huron, were drawn together
by a common cause rooted firmly in justice and compassion.
They wanted to offer hope to men, women, and children who
want nothing more than a chance to live in peace.
A broad-based, island-wide ecumenical initiative began in
September 2015 involving Roman Catholic, Anglican, independent Missionary and Community, and United churches.
Partnering with the Mennonite Central Committee and its
extensive refugee sponsorship network, applications were
made to sponsor and support five families from Eritrea.
We requested Eritreans partly because we were aware of
the harsh political climate that had driven thousands from
their homeland into refugee camps in Ethiopia, and partly
because two Eritrean families were already well-established
on Manitoulin Island. These families were in a unique position to help with language and cultural transitions for the
Recognizing that some preparations would benefit from
an island-wide approach and others would need to be more
localized, a central coordinating team was established
last October. Volunteers fanned out, quickly securing suitable accommodations in four different communities across
Manitoulin. Using a central distribution system, mounds
Churches work together on
by Janice Frame
A young Eritrean celebrates a birthday with a new
(continued from page 35)
With help from Thompson Rivers University we co-
hosted “The Face of Reconciliation” in January with
Ojibway author Richard Wagamese. More than 250 people
from the community attended. “Reconciliation is not to be
found in any official apology,” Richard said. Rather, it is to
be found “in the personal relations formed between people
who have for too long lived under one roof as strangers.”
Other experiences included a session with Nathan
Matthew, an educator and chief of the Simpcw First
Nation, who helped us look through Canada’s colonial
history with a different perspective.
We discovered more about Canada’s Aboriginal history through a webinar and several showings of recorded
Epiphany Explorations presentations with Aboriginal
themes. A group from the congregation visited the local
Secwepemc Museum and Heritage Park. Rich worship
experiences enhanced the ministry. Twice we enjoyed
drumming and song from local Aboriginal individuals.
The time we spent on the path to reconciliation was
hugely successful. “When we began this journey of reconciliation we really did not know where it would go,”
says Bruce. “As it turned out, the opening of one door led
to another and in a grace-filled way, a beginning trust of
good will and relationship was established.”
We plan to continue next year, focusing more on community engagement and fostering partnerships. We are
excited to continue walking the road of reconciliation.
Ian McLean is a diaconal ministry student from the Centre
of Christian Studies, Winnipeg. firstname.lastname@example.org