THE "ADVENT CONSPIRACY" RETURNS!
St. Peter's learned about the plight of the people in Pikangikum in December, 2013, when Dave Steeves spoke to us about the Water Project. Dave is part of a Toronto-based group of professionals working to provide safe drinking/washing water and sewage disposal in Pikangikum, a remote fly-in First Nations' community in Northern Ontario. It has a population of about 2200, of which half are youth.
Pikangikum was brought to international attention in 2011 as having the highest global suicide rate due to a wave of youth suicides.
In the Spring of 2015, planned retrofitting of more homes was placed on "hold" due to the current, historically-inadequate, diesel-electric power supply. As an interim measure, a railroad diesel engine has been loaned to Pikangikum to relieve the power shortage in the short term.
In May, 2015, members of St. Peter's joined members of other Anglican parishes in sending letters petitioning the Federal and Ontario Governments to take action and connect Pikangikum to the Provincial power grid.
|The letter was addressed to:||-||Stephen Harper, MP, Prime Minister of Canada
|and was copied to:||-||Bernard Valcourt, MP, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development||-||Kathleen Wynne, MPP, Premier of Ontario||-||David Zimmer, MPP, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs for the Province of Ontario
Thanks to those whose prayers, dedication and continued financial support are turning this intolerable situation into one of hope.
|Mary Lou Adams|
Fund-raising for the Pikangikum Water Project will continue in 2015 when, in addition to the Advent Conspiracy appeal, donations are invited throughout the year. Cards are available for gifts "in honour of" or "in memory of" at the Church office when you make a donation. Thank you to the St. Peter's people who contributed in the past to raise $5,000 in 2013, and $3,115 in 2014. Jan Stapleton has joined Mary Lou as St. Peter's reps on the Group working to meet the urgent needs in Pikangikum. Regular updates are posted on the bulletin board in the hallway, and on this web page.
An Urgent Message From the
Pikangikum Water Project Leadership Team
Our dear friends in Pikangikum First Nation have once again experienced tragedy and great sorrow. Three young people dead since last Friday.
On January 14 they lost Sonia, a 22 year old young mom, who was carrying an almost full term baby.
In June this family had lost another 13 year old daughter to suicide.. the girls had had numerous losses in their lives.. mom to hypothermia, a 3 year old brother and a 27 year old brother to suicide.
Then, on the 22 of January, a young man, 22 also hung himself. He was the boyfriend of one of Sonia's sisters. He had lost his dad, a half sister. and two sisters to suicide and a half brother to murder.
As the funeral for him was concluding, people ran to the church to inform that another young man had passed away. The cause of his death is uncertain.
At the beginning of 2015 Chief Paddy had faith that this would be a suicide free year for his community.... and now all of the devastation. Pikangikum's leaders are so weary.... death and funerals take all of their strength.
In addition to the tragic loss of their children, the people of Pikangikum have had to withstand the loss of power to the whole community because the diesel generators failed. Surely it is time these almost 3000 people of Ontario, Canada have access to the same electrical grid you and I have access to.
All weekend long there was a possibility that the teachers and high risk people would have to be evacuated as the main generator was leaking oil and the backups would not be able to maintain the community.
The community have been working at reducing the use of electricity. The arena and the Laundromat have been shut down.
While we share our love and prayers for an end to these tragedies with the people of Pikangikum we know that is not enough.
Our friends in Pikangikum have a right to life! A life with dignity. A reliable source of electrical power is essential to life and dignity in the north. The Government of Canada has a duty to ensure these rights of Canadians are met.
Indigenous Canadians also have treaty rights that the Government of Canada is responsible for meeting on behalf of all Canadians.
Thank you for your solidarity with the people of Pikangikum, especially in their time of need.
|Bob and Bing and Dave|
Pimatisiwin Nipi (Living Water)
UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 21, Paragraph 1: "Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retrainng, housing, sanitation, health and social security."
PWRDF Advent Conspiracy (Advent-2014)
Did you know that Canadians spend an average $18 billion a year on Christmas? All Anglicans are invited to be part of the Advent Conspiracy Program – the concept is simple:
The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love. BUT… what was once a time to celebrate the birth of a Saviour has turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists. What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?
WORSHIP FULLY. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.
SPEND LESS. Love becomes flesh, not an object
GIVE MORE. This year, Christians across Canada are reclaiming Christmas by supporting interim solutions for safe and accessible water in First Nations communities.
LOVE ALL. It all boils down to love. By spending just a little less on gifts we free up our resources to love as Jesus loves by giving to those who really need help.
"Jesus is portrayed in scripture... [as] very interested in every person, even those who seem far away from him. He gives his life for the people, in sacrificial love."
– National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald
As our Christmas celebrations approach, we are busy in our Advent Conspiracy
campaigns. The successful completion of Phase 1 this spring has blessed 10
families with access to clean, safe water. At the same time, waste water no
longer poses the risk of contamination to the family's water supply. We
rejoice and thank God that Phase 1 was completed on time, on budget, on
plan, and as we promised the people of Pikangikum. This is a remarkable
During his recent visit to the community, Bob White met with the families who received a water upgrade. One mother told Bob she is grateful she can regularly bathe her children. Their skin rashes have disappeared. The community Nurse confirms that once a family has access to clean water, the incidence of skin rashes and scabies disappears, and overall health improves.
In spite of this success, there remains a tremendous need for our continued support and involvement with the people of Pikangikum. The majority of families still lack regular access to safe water. They still face the danger of waste water contaminating what they have. It is estimated that there are 12 to 13 individuals, mainly of whom are children, living in each home. So, the dire need for clean water access includes many people.
Advent Conspiracy fund raising for Phase 2 is well underway. Unfortunately we have just received some unfortunate news. On November 28, 2014, former Chief Dean Owen informed the Pikangikum Working Group that the community's power grid is at maximum capacity. Any additional hookups, such as our housing retrofits, could cause the generators to explode. This news was a shock to all of us who heard it.
Despite numerous discussions with the federal government, promised upgrades to the electrical system have failed to materialize.
So...what to do? Bishop Mark and Adele Finney/PWRDF have agreed to continue in faith with fund raising in Advent Conspiracy. The community is approaching their government contacts to resolve this problem. At our most recent Pimatisiwin Nipi meeting, we agreed to continue to work with the community. The need for clean water remains great and this need will only increase - the population of Pikangikum is growing. It is important to note that the houses of the Chief and Council did not receive a water upgrade system. The families chosen were those with severe health issues. Our valuable work continues to support the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.
We will be meeting, as you know, on January 19th, at 7:15 p.m., at Trinity, Aurora. At that time, we will have updates and further conversation.
In the meantime, I would like to express my great joy in working with you all.
The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, with the help of local Anglican Churches, continues to support a Living Water Project in Pikangikum, a remote northern Ontario fly-in community in which 95% of the homes are without water and wastewater facilities.
In 2013, Anglicans across Canada raised over $100,000, which was able to provide a source of potable drinking water to 14 homes, equipping the homes with cisterns to hold the water and a wastewater holding tank. St. Peter's, Cobourg gave $5,000 to the 2013 total. In 2014, we hope to raise funds for equipping even more homes.
St. Peter's continues to accept donations on an ongoing basis. They can be made payable to St. Peter's Anglican Church (please mark your cheque with "for Pikangikum Water Project").
If you wish to make a donation for someone "in Lieu of a Gift" or as an "In Memoriam", cards are available in the office for both purposes.
For further information, please contact the office at 905-372-3442 or Mary Lou Adams by E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on the images below to view a visual portrayal of the progress of the Pikangikum Water Project.
On Sunday, June 22, 2014, St. Peter's joined many other parishes across the Anglican Church to observe the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer. The Choral Communion Service at 10:30 am used a special order-of-service that incorporated elements of Canadian First Nations spirituality and traditions.
Jan Stapleton, Church School Director at St. Peter's, gave a comprehensive overview of the Medicine Wheel during an extended version of the Children's Talk. Jan had a Medicine Wheel placed at the foot of the Chancel Steps in the centre of the Nave (see photo below) and used it to explain its four quadrants. Each quadrant has special characteristics - colour, direction, symbolic plant, symbolic creature, one of the four seasons, and elements of wisdom/learning. It also includes Sunrise in the East (yellow) quadrant of the wheel, and Sunset in the West (black) quadrant of the wheel.
The Sermon Time of this service was devoted to three presentations related to First Nations projects and ministries:
|1.|| Pastor Judy gave a presentation on the work and progress of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.|
The Introduction to the Commission's Mandate states:
"There is an emerging and compelling desire to put the events of the past behind us so that we can work towards a stronger and healthier future. The truth telling and reconciliation process as part of an overall holistic and comprehensive response to the Indian Residential School legacy is a sincere indication and acknowledgement of the injustices and harms experienced by Aboriginal people and the need for continued healing. This is a profound commitment to establishing new relationships embedded in mutual recognition and respect that will forge a brighter future. The truth of our common experiences will help set our spirits free and pave the way to reconciliation."
(from the TRC website at www.trc.ca)
|2.|| John Lindsay, St. Peter's Faithworks Coordinator, gave a presentation on the work and ministry of the Toronto Urban Native Ministry (TUNM).
TUNM seeks to provide Christian pastoral and spiritual care integrated with First Nations teachings and traditions, for Aboriginal people in Toronto, and to foster healing and right relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Founded in calendar year 2003, TUNM touches the lives of more than seven thousand five hundred (7,500) individuals each year. It reaches out to Aboriginal people on the streets; in hospitals; in jails; in shelters and in hostels providing counselling, spiritual care as well as referrals to community services. The Toronto Urban Native Ministry plays an important role in sacred gatherings of Aboriginal people in the performance of baptisms; weddings; funerals to sharing circles; spirit naming and feasts. TUNM is deeply involved in the Truth and Reconciliation Process by assisting in the facilitation of the reconciliation process between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
|3.|| Mary Lou Adams gave a presentation on the Pikangikum Water Project, which is working to improve the water, sanitation, and other living conditions at the Pikangikum First Nation Reserve in Northern Ontario.
More details of this project follow below.
Following the Sermon Time, the Prayers of the People used a First Nations-centred format that had the congregation face in each of the four directions of the Medicine Wheel while prayers for the people in that direction were offered. Prayers of honour for Grandfathers and Grandmothers in each direction were offered, followed by prayers related to the elements in each quadrant of the Medicine Wheel.
The Eucharistic Prayer of Consecration also incorporated First Nations references - Yahweh, Gchi Minidoo, Great Spirit, Holy One.
The weather now makes it possible to proceed more effectively with the construction work involved in improving the quality of water and sanitation in this impoverished community in Northern Ontario.
For people making donations to the work in Pikangikum, cards to accompany the donations are now available at the church office (in lieu of a gift - "in gratitude" and "in memory"). Keep it in mind for your "hard to buy for" friends and relatives.
In the fall of 2013, St. Peter's raised $5,000 for Pikangikum in association with our FaithWorks program.
It was at the Diocesan Outreach Conference that Mary Lou heard a compelling case for Pikangikum. She brought her excitement back to our Priest-in-Charge, Judy Herron-Graham, who fully encouraged us to proceed. Aboriginal needs are included in our current Strategic Plan but it was PWRDF's commitment of $100,000 for the Pikangikum Water Project and their leadership that was largely responsible for our taking up this particular cause at that time. Comprehensive support materials from PWRDF made it easy to present the need within our church and this was supplemented by a dynamic speaker, Dave Steeves, whose personal commitment to the program was contagious. He gave an excellent audio-visual presentation at two of our worship services, making use of the Homily time.
The results were unexpected but gratifying. This was a classic example of Anglican generosity when faced with injustice and human need. When the Gospel of the day was "Living Water" we had a follow-up opportunity for people to participate.
To date the project has seen eight homes completed with running water in the kitchen and bathroom as well as septic. A further eight homes are slated to begin work when this bitter cold winter ends.
Of course, among the support there are the skeptics. Is there any hope that this will result in lasting change? During Dave's talks on December 8th he mentioned an article in the Toronto Star that morning about Skeena B.C. The article describes a situation frighteningly similar to Pikangikum. ("... few people had jobs. Suicides were rising..."). The Councillors worked with government and non-government organizations to inject money into improving the economy, schools, roads etc. and when all was said and done the economy was improved, the people were staying or moving back to the community and there were no more suicides.
This is the future of Pikangikum - one step at a time - with our support.
We continue to accept donations on an ongoing basis. They can be made payable to St. Peter's Anglican Church (please note at the bottom the funds are to be directed to Pikangikum). If you wish to make a donation for someone in Lieu of a Gift or as an In Memoriam, cards are now available in the office for both purposes.
Please see the office for more information or contact Mary Lou Adams or Lisa Bailey.
We all learned about the plight of the people in Pikangikum last month as Dave Steeves spoke to us on December 8th about the Water Project. Dave is part of a Toronto-based group of professionals working to provide safe drinking/washing water and sewage disposal in Pikangikum, a remote fly-in First Nations' community in Northern Ontario. It has a population of about 2200, of which half are youth.
Pikangikum was brought to international attention in 2011 as having the highest global suicide rate due to a wave of youth suicides.
We are delighted to tell you that the people of St. Peter's supported this Christmas appeal with donations totalling $4,725.00 and they continue to come in! This is remarkable and shows the commitment we have to helping other Christians in need as well as our support of the Anglican Church - The Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) which had committed to raising $100,000.
If you still wish to make a donation please make your cheque payable to St. Peter's Anglican Church and clearly marked "Pikangikum Water Project" on the bottom left. If it is a cash donation, please attach a note showing your name and address for tax purposes. It can be delivered to the church office.
If you have any questions, please contact Mary Lou Adams or Lisa Bailey. Thank you again for your support.