REGINA — It’s the first time Anglican and Roman Catholic groups have come together to talk about Aboriginal ministry.
About 30 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people attended what was called Signs of Hope: Conversations on First Nations Ministry, Oct. 17, at St. Paul Cathedral’s Community Centre here. It was organized under the auspices of the Anglican Roman Catholic Covenant Implementation Committee and is one of the goals and activities that are part of the Covenant signed between the Archdiocese of Regina and the Diocese of Qu’Appelle in 2011.
“It is important to educate each other about First Nations and what is going on in their lives. It’s important to hear the stories of the people,” said Susan Klein, co-chair of the Implementation Committee in conversation with the PM. Anglican co-chair Deacon Michael Jackson said it is a continuation of the process of reconciliation and healing between the First Nations People and the rest of our society. “This workshop we have been considering for some time. I think it is God’s will that it should happen now and at this very time in our history.”
Sister Re-Anne Letourneau, of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, heads up the Roman Catholic Aboriginal non-Aboriginal Relations Community and Rev. Dale Gillman is an Anglican priest who is chair of the Anglican First Nations Ministry. The two were the major presenters who were followed by a discussion period that encouraged audience participation.
Letourneau talked mostly about the importance of building relations between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals, she said in a conversation with the PM.
“Our vision is relationships and our mission is to facilitate relationships and to journey together interculturally, rooted in truth, justice, love and humility.” As part of that process her group even changed their name from Aboriginal Ministry to Relations Community. “We were seen as always doing something for people.”
Gillman is an Anglican priest and pastor of a church in Nokomis. She described her life and the life of her five siblings with a mother who attended a residential school.
“She always believed that white people were better than we were,” said Gillman in an interview with the PM. “She never knew how to parent and didn’t show love but she became better at it and was a better mother to her grandchildren.”
Gillman said her own grandparents, although they too were at a residential school, retained their culture and traditions and were much better parents to her and her siblings. Gillman is often called to Regina’s North Central which has a high Aboriginal population. “I see the impact of residential schools there when parents need to attend parenting school,” because they did not receive those skills from their own parents.
Klein and Jackson hope this first “conversation” will lead to other opportunities where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginals can come together in understanding.