Friday, April 23, 2010


More cool news: I just landed an LTO (Long Term Occasional) position at an Aboriginal high school here in the city. I will be teaching there until the day I fly north for the summer!

Just before I was called for the interview, I saw one of the students on the street who attends this school. Not just any student, he was the one who came to mind as I prayed about whether or not I should volunteer with AI this summer. He lives in a shelter. He's 21, and is likely to not finish his high school education. I was disappointed to see him out on the street again during school hours (I run into him quite a bit). I hope he finishes. I really do. He has such a wonderful personality and presence.

I cannot believe I got this job! What a blessing from God, and how suiting to be teaching in the Aboriginal school, right before I go to serve Aboriginal youth in Grassy Narrows.

Sometimes people will say it's a coincidence, or the stars are alligning. I'd like to believe God is the one behind all of this!

I am reminded of this verse: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Answered Prayers & Encouragement

Good things are happening! God is answering prayers as I prepare to go north this summer.

Un: I needed to find a subletter for the month of June. I found someone who needed a place just for June! This enables me to take the money I would have spent on rent and put it towards my travel costs to and from Kenora.

Deux: Art and cards have been selling, again providing a source of financial support for the summer.

Trois: Yesterday, I presented on Agidasin Initiatives and my role with READ to my church. They were very supportive and it was encouraging to hear their words of encouragement.

Quatre: Former church communities of mine are praying and dreaming of future possibilities for AI - how exciting.

All this to say, I am feeling very encouraged by the level of support and answered prayers. God is faithful... I cannot wait to see how he is working and will work through the communities of Grassy Narrows, Rat Portage and White Dog this summer!

Be blessed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pay-what-you-can Art Fundraiser

I am selling art and cards as a means to raise financial support for my summer ministry with Agidasin Initiatives. Donations are eligible for a tax receipt. I've posted some of my work below. You can also go to the album I created on Facebook via this link. *note - you must be my friend on Facebook in order to view the album. Feel free to add me if we're not already connected!

Let me know if you would like more information on these pieces, if you would like to see more, and if you would like to support me financially via purchasing my art and/or cards!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I've blogged about what I will be doing with Agidasin Initiatives, I have written about reasons teaching literacy is important, and posted about some of the issues present in Grassy Narrows. It's time to tell you why I made the decision to go work with First Nation people in northwestern Ontario in the first place. Let's see if I can do this without writing novel!

At this time last year
I began thinking about teaching in remote parts of the country with Aboriginal people. I did the research, I talked about it with my family, I started applying. Some family needs became more important, so I put this idea on hold.

During the summer and fall I applied to teach on some First Nation reserves. Some were very remote (fly-in only), others less so. I was given interviews and even offered a full-time contract. Instead, I chose to come to Ottawa to substitute teach. Admittedly, I was afraid of going away on my own. The desire to work with First Nations people in the north remained.

When I got to Ottawa
, I discovered the Aboriginal high school at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre. They graciously called me in to visit and later to substitute teach. Every day I get to teach at this school, I learn far more than I give back. From talking circles and smudging, to Indian tacos, drumming and more - I've been given a taste of a culture so beautiful, my appetite to learn more is only growing.

When I thought of summer time and two free months
(teaching will always have its perks!) I wanted to spend them meaningfully. I thought back to the job I declined in Northwestern Ontario, to the beautiful people who live there, to the wonder of the landscape, to the needs present in First Nations communities. I remembered the First Nations student I sometimes teach who lives in a shelter. I thought of how many of the homeless faces in Ottawa are of Aboriginal and Inuit descent. I wanted to make a difference.

* * *

, the more I grow in my faith and learn about God, myself and the world, the more I realize I'm here not for me. I'm here to be a part of something bigger. This "bigger" is God's Kingdom. I believe God wants me to take part in restoring this world to its intended beauty. That means helping to repair the wounds of the past.

Aboriginal people have experienced a lot of pain, suffering and oppression. They were restricted from their own land and put on reserves. Many were ripped from their families and put into residential schools, which ripped them of their culture, their language, their identity. I am still quite ignorant of all the treaties and things that have affected First Nations people in Canada, but I am aware of some of the present effects of past traumas: poverty, illiteracy, homelessness, sickness, judgment, racism, isolation, and more. Of course there are many, many beautiful things happening, and I don't want to group all First Nations people together. But I also cannot ignore the pain that does exist, especially on the reserves as I will learn more about this summer.

* * *

My heart tells me something needs to be done. My faith tells me hope exists. My Christianity tells me God can help. My teaching skills tell me to use them. My belief is that serving with Agidasin Initiatives is a great way to tie this all together.

Please join with me in thought and in prayer, not just for my own endeavors this summer, but for Agidasin Initiatives, the founders of AI, the people who volunteer, and especially the people we will be serving.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

As Long as the River Flows

I found the following in a search for videos with Grassy Narrows, the reserve where I will be spending my days this summer. The clip is a documentary about clear cutting in GN and how the people rallied to save their forests, how cutting the forests is damaging not only to the earth, but to the people who inhabit the land.

My hopes are that teaching literacy skills to the youth of Grassy Narrows will give them the foundation they need to advocate for their people and land. Canada's history has many dark areas in terms of how First Nations people and land have been treated. Education can give youth the power they need to overcome.

I've also included a clip of Johnny Cash singing As Long as the River Flows - not just for fun, but music is always a nice touch!