#2 Healing and Reconciliation

Come and See!

This was Reverend Linda Paton-Cowie’s invitation to us when we gathered together that first evening of

the Healing and Reconciliation tour. Come and See, as she reminded us, is also Jesus invitation (John

1:39) to those who would follow him. “Do you want to know who I am, where I live, come and see… “

What a good and holy invitation it was to the next 10 days as together we would travel to the sites of

Indian Residential Schools, meet survivors and visiting some of the Indigenous Partners and Ministries of

the Presbyterian Church in Canada. Come and See: in our time together on this tour it meant listening

more than talking, letting silence be when it was needed, and receiving the hospitality offered to us with

grace. As I reflect on the journey and begin to share it with others, I am also mindful that what I share be

my own story and that anything that belongs to someone else is only shared with their permission.

I have written already in the first post about our first day, Sunday and how we worshiped at both First

Presbyterian Church in Winnipeg as well as Place of Hope Presbyterian Church which is located at the

Winnipeg Inner City Mission or WICM as it is better known.

At the sacred fire as we arrived at WICM Monday morning.

At the sacred fire as we arrived at WICM Monday morning.

Monday we returned to WICM. We were greeted as we arrived by Reverend Margaret Mullin who was

seated by the sacred fire that was lit outside and tended through the day until it went out on its own.

Going inside Reverend Mullin began to teach us some of the things about being in a healing circle and

Indigenous Spirituality that we were glad to know as the week went by. Things like, when you walk

inside the circle go clockwise! We fashioned small tobacco pouches using red material, red being a

healing colour and Margaret talked about how important Cedar, Sage and other plants are. We

experienced and learned about smudging and Margaret also talked to us a bit about the Medicine

Wheel and some of the various teachings its red, black, white and yellow quarters hold.

Reverend Margaret Mullin

Reverend Margaret Mullin

After coffee and bannock, we split into two groups. One went to Flora House and had a walk about the

neighbourhood there. I was part of the group that began the work of painting the thrift store (Ashinabe

Fellowship Centre or Miracle Store, where everything costs 25cents!) at WICM. Over lunch three people

who are participating in the Next Steps to Employment program at WCIM spoke to us about their

personal journeys. You can learn more about that program here https://wicm.ca/programs-and-


Beulah and Sydney painting at the Thrift store!

Beulah and Sydney painting at the Thrift store!

After lunch the groups changed places and while others finished up the work on the thrift shop and

some other cleaning tasks around the mission, others of us went to both Flora House and a visit to the

Bear Clan.


Flora House is a PCC supported ministry that is part of the work of WICM. For those of you who

remember Christine Ball, this is where she served very early in her ministry. Flora House serves children

and youth ranging from ages 6-14 years through a variety of programs that run after school during the

School year and then continue through the summer, providing nutritious food, homework help and

positive adult mentors. Winnipeg’s North End where both Flora House and WICM are located is, as their

website describes, “fraught with violence and negative influences”. Flora House is a haven in all this and

those that greeted us there included the leader of the program and two moms whose children

participate in the programs.

Bear Clan is another organization that seeks to provide safety and refuge in North Winnipeg. James

Favel operates it and you can find his story simply by googling Bear Clan Winnipeg. It all began for him,

James told us, as he has told the press before, when Tina Fontaines 14 year old body was pulled out of

the river. Something had to be done. Today his organization describes itself as people working their

community to build relationships and provide safety to one another. We were welcomed by James at

their physical location which is functions as a drop in for water and food. During the evenings groups go

out on patrol during times when familiies and children are still out. One thing that really impressed on

us the crisis of the neighbhourhood that they serve is when he described how only several years ago

they were picking up tens to dozens of used needles in a year. So far in 2019 they have picked up over

40 000!

Supper on Monday was back at WICM where the children from Flora house joined us for a barbeque and

we all had an opportunity back in a circle to share our own understanding of where we are being called

to serve.

Come and See! I hope I have been able to share with you a bit of what that invitation meant to us on

one of the early days of our journey. I am still unpacking from it myself but this I know, that I have a lot

more questions now than before I left, much to learn and much to share.

The next day we were on to Kenora, the fellowship centre there and the sites of several of Residential

Schools. Will post about that in a few more days! Thanks so much for reading.

Dr. Rev. Karen Dimock