The past year has been busy, challenging, and a time of developing relationships. The two greatest challenges of the year were the May reports of unmarked graves by the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc people and the death of the Rev. Vivian Seegers from COVID-19 related complications in June. Both events shocked, disrupted lives, and challenged the faith of many individuals.
At the diocesan level, I worked with Captain the Rev. Robin Major, an Anglican Chaplain in the Canadian Armed Forces, on Resilience Training for the diocesan Clergy Day. In September, Dennis Joseph, an Elder from the Squamish Nation, and I spent the morning with Diocesan Council at their annual day long working retreat day sharing thoughts on Truth and Reconciliation. The project Raising Hearts to Remember was developed in response to the reporting of the Missing Children. More will be said about this project early in 2022. In December, I had the opportunity to participate in an online meeting with the Royal City and South Burnaby Deanery to discuss Indigenous Justice issues and processes regarding education leading to the building of community and relationship with Indigenous Peoples.
Educational events and opportunities were organized by many parishes. Often online they included Great Speaker series at St. Laurence, Coquitlam, an online Retreat for Reconciliation with St. Dunstan, Aldergrove, and Food for the Hungry Canada provided a series of masterclasses on Indigenous issues with the Rev. Dr. Ray Aldred of the Vancouver School of Theology (VST). I was involved in providing educational opportunities for Adam Dawkins, a seminarian from Sewanee University of the South in Tennessee.
The year also saw the development of a Season of Creation Companion book and in mid-November, I was able to attend an in-person session of the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund’s (PWRDF) Mapping the Ground We Stand On at Christ Church Cathedral. I had the chance to meet Nancy and John Denham of St. Hilda’s, Sechelt, PWRDF BC/Yukon regional Mapping facilitators.
All forms of Indigenous Justice work involve relationship building. The past year has been one of developing relationships with members of the Squamish Nation and being introduced to Shain Jackson and invited to his Spirit
Works facility in North Vancouver. Relationship building is already beginning, although it’s in early stages with the Native Education Centre (NEC) and more will be said about this in 2022.
September 30 was Orange Shirt Day, and the first Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada. It was spent walking with Residential School Survivors and community members from the Friendship Centre to Grandview Park. Later that afternoon, at the request of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc people, an Honour Song for the Missing Children was sung at the Port Moody Hatchery and many other places across Canada. A developing partnership has formed with Algonquin craftsman Sabian Rawcliffe by funding sessions where 30 Residential School Survivors and Youth each created their own drum through Britannia Community Centre.
Conversations have been happening and plans are developing for activities in many parishes including: St. John the Apostle, Port Moody; St. Anselm, Point Grey; St. Philip, Dunbar; St. Faith, Oakridge; Holy Trinity Cathedral, New Westminster; St. Cuthbert, Delta; and St. Alban the Martyr, Burnaby.
Urban Aboriginal Ministry (UAM) has been finding its way after the tragic and untimely death of its priest and founder, the Rev. Vivian Seegers. Meetings have taken place and conversations have focused on what can be done
to support Vivian’s work and ministry. Two activities, the Drum Circle and the Food Ministry have been identified as works to be supported. The Friday Drum Circle takes place at St. Mary Magdalene followed by a meal prepared by Steven Seegerts, Vivian’s son. Plans are in the works with Christ Church Cathedral for a summer event working with the Maundy Ministries. Discernment for the future is taking place while plans are being made for the Christmas Feast that has been a highlight for so many through the years. Vivian is missed and her work continues through her family and the community that has developed.