Approximately 5% of the population of Edmonton is of Indigenous heritage, while roughly 46% of the population of the inner city is of Indigenous heritage. These facts underscore the vital need for us to engage actively with our brothers and sisters of the Indigenous community in our ministry. While ICPM has throughout its existence been involved with Indigenous residents of the inner city our efforts have intensified since the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which were completed in 2014, and the issuance of the Commission’s Final Report and Call to Action in December, 2015.
We created a new position on our ministry team with a specific focus of building relationships and friendships with the Indigenous community. This position is known as our Oskapewis (which means “helper” in Cree). We have been privileged to have Michelle Nieviadomy serve as our Oskapewis since the spring of 2015. Michelle has been very active in our women’s ministry events, as well as conducting our Standing Stones liturgy as part of our Sunday worship services. Michelle has also participated in many activities in the broader community, including conducting blanket exercises for congregations as well as speaking at public events.
We also created four special events for 2017, to be held during the weeks of the solstices and equinoxes during the year, with the theme of “Moving Forward – We Are All In This Together”. These events were known as Our Common Ground, and focused on the themes of prayer, wisdom, healing and thanksgiving. The events were co-hosted with our partners, the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, United Church Edmonton Presbytery and the Moving Forward With Reconciliation group of the United Church. Our first event was held on March 18th, and was so well attended that we had to find a bigger venue for our remaining three events. They were held on June 17th, September 23rd and December 16th respectively. More information on the events can be found in the editions of our newsletter, Straight from the Street (click here for an article in the February 2017 newsletter about the events).
The first of our Common Ground Events in 2017 to promote reconciliation between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities was held on March 18th at the Alex Taylor School. A wonderful turnout of 125 people filled the gym and shared a powerful time of music, reflections and group activities on the theme of prayer and spirituality. Click here to watch a short video of the event.
We are continuing our reconciliation initiatives with our “Living The 8th Fire” discussion series. For more information on this series see the item in the What’s New section on our opening page.
If you have any suggestions for events or ministry ideas, please feel free to contact us. Our contact information is on the Contact Us page on this website. We always appreciate receiving comments and suggestions.