Our Story of Truth & Reconciliation
at St. Mary's
The president of St. Jerome's University, Katherine Bergman, encourages Father Toby Collins to connect with Anishnabeg Outreach in Kitchener so that a relationship might be formed, and truth and reconciliation continue to grow at St. Mary's parish.
Tammy Webster is contacted at Anishnabeg Outreach and an invitation is extended by Tammy to an upcoming event where community partners are going to build a Teaching Lodge.
Stephen Jackson and Tammy Webster welcome Fr Toby Collins, Fr Joseph deVivieros and some parishioners from St. Mary's Church to their location at 236 Woodhaven Road in Kitchener.
These visits included: A tour of their facility and introduction to the on-site Reconciliation Garden, Wampum Belt, Healing Lodge, and Teaching Lodge.
Visits to Anishnabeg Outreach by the leadership at St. Mary's occur to build relationships with the staff there and be introduced to various forms of healing.
Time is spent with Indigenous Elder Gerrard Sagassige to learn more about the Indigenous history and teachings he was graciously willing to share.
An invitation is extended to participate in a Pipe Ceremony at Anishnabeg Outreach the day after the unmarked graves were found in Kamloops, BC.
St. Mary's Truth and ReconciliACTION Circle is formed and meets every second week to foster healing and educate ourselves about Truth and Reconciliation with the help of Indigenous leaders & elders like Stephen Jackson and Elaine Endanawas.
Under the guidance of Stephen and Elaine, new initiatives begin at St. Mary's to help the parish move forward with Truth and Reconciliation. Some examples include:
- touring a virgin forest near Breslau to learn more about Indigenous medicines and our common connection to the land;
- fundraising on Orange T-Shirt Day to support the Anishnabeg Outreach initiative that teaches Indigenous Peoples the art of beading;
- the installation of a Reconciliation Garden in front of the church with native plants, a giant turtle made from rocks, and a Two-Row Wampum Belt;
- displaying the 7 Grandfather Teachings in the Reconciliation Garden;
- and, working to feed Indigenous Peoples in our area by arranging a free lease of 10 acres of land owned by the Diocese of Hamilton and contributing to the ongoing care of the garden through to the harvest.