# 3 Healing and Reconciliation - Kenora

Kenora is treaty 3 land and the traditional territory of the Ojibway and Chippewa.

As I think about our time there I want to frame my reflections with one of the devotionals that Reverend

Linda Paton Cowie, our chaplain led while we were there. Based on John 4 and Jesus meeting the

Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well, Linda introduced her comments on this Scripture with the words “

and once again Jesus was going through a land that wasn’t his”. And then as he met and spoke with the

woman there, his promise that someday we will worship in Spirit and Truth. A promise that I look to in a

new way now.

Our journey to Kenora, began with the road trip from Winnipeg to the (second) site of the Cecelia

Jeffrey Indian Residential School. This is one of the schools that was run by the Presbyterian Church in

Canada, and it was made famous recently by Gordon Downie’s re-awakening in the press, the story of

Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who ran away from there and died of exposure in doing so in 1966.

I was sitting with our chaplain for the trip, Reverend Linda as we got closer to the memorial and looking

out the window it was all rocks and trees, rough and rugged Northern Ontario. Beautiful in its own way

but just imagine Linda said, imagine the children who tried to run away through this. You cannot see

very far and the ground is so uneven…

Arriving at the site we were greeted by elders and residential school survivors and a ceremony around

the memorial. Tobacco was offered, smudging and survivors of the school shared their reflections. Time

passed slowly and quickly all at once as people took the time they needed to speak and suddenly we had

been there almost two hours. Lunch was an opportunity to mingle and share. To be shown around.


This is the memorial. Beneath it are buried toys that children played with at the school.


Little is left of the school, just a small piece of foundation, some steps. It was torn down but this is the

view from where it was located.

It was a good day and a hard day. When we left the site of the school it was to travel into Kenora and

settled down for the night.

Dr. Rev Karen Dimock

#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

#1 Healing and Reconciliation

A hope that doesn’t disappoint: this was the title of the sermon offered by Reverend Kevin MacDonald of First Presbyterian Church on our first Sunday in Winnipeg. It is hard to believe it is only two weeks ago now, we have experienced so much since then and I continue to meditate on these words: A hope that doesn’t disappoint. There were certainly times on our journey when we found ourselves searching for it and other times when it came forward and greeted us. It was a journey that embraced us body, mind and soul and we learned a lot about hope and reconciliation that is for sure. The kind of learning that is not easily summed up in words but makes itself known in getting to know individuals and entering into relationship with them. The vulnerability of opening our hearts, receiving and sharing stories and handling that as the most precious of gifts.

The trip began in Winnipeg on June 15th , gathering together with 35 members of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, nine of us from St. Andrew’s. This is treaty 1 territory, the home of the Anishanebeg, Sioux and Metis nations and people.

Photo: members of St Andrew’s arriving in Winnipeg, June 15th

Photo: members of St Andrew’s arriving in Winnipeg, June 15th

Sunday was the first full day for us and after worship and lunch provided at First Presbyterian we were off to Place of Hope Presbyterian Church which is located within the premises of the Winnipeg Inner City Mission. Reverend Dr. Margaret Mullin is the minister there, she is also recently retired from being the executive director of the Mission as well. She welcomed us in and encouraged us to spread out as others arrived, to talk to people, ask about their stories and share our own.

Some of us got into the vans that were driving into the neighbourhood around the mission, picking up families for worship. This is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in our entire country, and those who live there are largely indigenous. Others among us volunteered to help teach the children in Sunday School and the rest of us stayed in the sanctuary, getting to know and talk with people as they arrived.

Photo: arrival at Place of Hope Presbyterian Church

Photo: arrival at Place of Hope Presbyterian Church

In contrast to our worship experience at First Presbyterian where people sat spread out in a large sanctuary, here the room was smaller and we were brought so much closer together, and not just physically. People shared stories, children laughed along side the adults. There was a sharing of stories and who people were. One of the women I was talking to couldn’t stop repeating how much this church and the mission meant to her and her family.


Worship was joyful. Hymns were sung in English and Cree and after the children went out to Sunday School Reverend Mullin welcomed those of us there to visit and in her sermon addressed the poverty of the neighbourhoods in which her people live, the outcome in many ways of the residential school and colonization experience. She spoke very eloquently of the difficulty in rebuilding trust between indigenous and non-indigenous people but also her great hope in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. As the church accepts responsibility for harm done in the past only then, she says, can we begin to rebuild trust and restore good relations. Guilt and shame, says Reverend Dr. Mullin, are not yours to carry for historical injustice. Carry a Godly Sorrow and get involved.

Dinner was served after worship and then we headed back to the University residences where were staying.

The next morning it was back to WICM where we helped out with some painting and cleaning, took tours of the neighbourhood including Flora House and the Bear Clan. Stay tuned for the next Blog to learn more about that!

Dr. Rev. Karen Dimock

A Lament for Yonge Street

A Lament for Yonge Street  

Silent weeping
Hands clasping
Hearts racing…

Knees bent in service to comfort the wounded
Knees bent in prayer to summon peace

Sitting on my couch,
the news is on,
a curtain torn in the temple of my heart
admitting the world’s pain.

Death has its own schedule
A withered hand reaching in to steal away life

But you,
you are the giver of life

Therefore, we lift up to you those who have died on this day when violence erupted.
There is no making sense of their death, there is no justice available in this moment.

Yet may those who love them be comforted.

There will be no raising today as for the sons of the widows of Zarephath and of Nain. Yet we are a people who know about Death. All our hope rests in Christ, the first fruits of the Resurrection.

We lift up to you those whose lives have been disrupted, shattered, with broken bodies and bruised minds. Life will not be the same yet may they, like Jacob, find new life even as they limp forevermore.

We lift up to you those who were there first. The passersby, the lunch mates untouched, the strangers standing nearby who first witnessed the horror. We lift up to you EMS personnel, the vanguard of those rebuilding lives. We lift up to you fire crews and others who secured the area. Finally, we lift up to you the police, 32 Division who responded first among many; we honour the officer who disarmed the attacker with the power of words and conviction. May they all be healed of their own wounds from today. As the years go by and images flood back, may all who need help seek it, may all who seek it receive it, and may all who receive it be made whole.

Finally, we pray for the man. The man beyond comprehension yet one we know too well. The man who drove the truck and took those lives. May your Holy Spirit convict him so that he may repent, and in so turning to you find new life.

Lord, may everything we do be pleasing to you.

~The Rev. Matthew Sams, Willowdale Presbyterian Church, Toronto

Remembering… Our hearts and prayers are with the Humboldt Broncos, their families and friends

A prayer from our Moderator , Reverend Peter Bush


I am waking up to the tragic news out of Saskatchewan about the accident that took the lives of 14 people on the Humboldt Broncos (Junior Hockey team) bus and injured 14 others. So this is raw and quick.

God your Son wept over the death of his friend, Lazarus, we weep over the Humboldt Broncos team members and coaching staff who died in the bus accident yesterday. 
We lift up before you family and friends, the community of Humboldt, the other teams in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, be the God who sees and hears their cries of sorrow and loss. We lift up before you first responders, doctors, nurses, others who were at the scene or are providing care to the survivors, be the God who guides hands and calms minds in the midst of crisis. We pray for those who were injured that they would be healed of their injuries both physical and psychological, be the God of healing and hope. God, we do not have words to adequately express the ache in our hearts.
These things we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Reverend Peter Bush                                                                                                                  Sunday, April 8th


Moderator responds to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and Nairobi, Kenya

Our hearts have been broken yet again by the violence and the incitement to violence we have
witnessed in the world over the weekend. In Charlottesville, where white supremacists clashed
with anti-racist protesters with deadly consequences. In Nairobi, where violence between the Luo and the Kikuyu has produced equally deadly consequences.

At the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 1, we are taught that all human beings are made in the
image of God. At the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation, human beings “from every
nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,” gather together to bring glory and honour to God who sits on the throne and to Jesus Christ. Between these bookends telling us that human beings of every ethnicity and culture are made in the image of God, James 3:9,10 reminds us we cannot both praise God and curse our fellow human beings who are made in the image of God. We pray for a world where all human beings recognize their fellow human beings as being made in the image of God.

God who made all humans in your image, we come to you with broken hearts.

We live in a world where human beings curse and disrespect other human beings on the basis of the other’s skin colour. We live in a world where human beings attack and commit violence
against other human beings on the basis of the other’s ethnicity.

We weep over the loss of life that has occurred. We pray for those who have lost loved ones.
Bring comfort.

We pray for those who feel fear because of the violence. Bring the peace which passes all

We pray for those who have learned the violence is the way to deal with racial and ethnic
difference. Bring a change of heart by your Holy Spirit.

We celebrate the courage of those who speak and act for peace and reconciliation between
ethnicities and races. For as your Son, Jesus, declared, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they
will be called the children of God.”

God of grace, your Son Jesus Christ took into himself the hate and violence of the world, through the work of the cross we pray all human beings will come to recognize their fellow human beings as being made in your image.

We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

From the website of the Presbyterian Church in Canada

WCRC joins declaration to overcome Reformation divisions

Wonderful news from World Communion of Reformed Churches recently!

From the article: The World Communion of Reformed Churches has formally joined an ecumenical statement with Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists aiming to overcome divisions between Protestants and Roman Catholics from the time of the Protestant Reformation.

“Today we are not only signing a statement, we are building a church together,” said the Rev. Najla Kassab from Lebanon in her sermon at the service in the Stadtkirche, where Luther used to preach.

Pope Francis, in a message read by Bishop Farrell, described the ceremony as “an eloquent sign of our commitment to walking together, as brothers and sisters in Christ, on a journey from conflict to communion, from division to reconciliation.”

Read the full item here.