The following are excerpts from an interview featured on “Ibo et Non Redibo” a web-log authored by seven Canadian Jesuits. This web interview is between Seminarian Edmund Lo, SJ who teaches at Campion College in the University of Regina and Sister ReAnne Létourneau, of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, who is currently active in Regina, Saskatchewan, with the Aboriginal, Non Aboriginal Relations Community.
EL: What exactly does one do in this community?
SR: First, to give a little background: our ministry began four years ago in response to a request by the Archbishop (Daniel Bohan) that the Archdiocese reach out to our Aboriginal brothers and sisters in the city of Regina. As a team, we took time to pray and discern what the Creator’s vision was for this ministry. It became clear that it really wasn’t about what we “do” but who we “are” and how we live together united as one family.
Simply put, our vision is about relationships. Our mission is to help facilitate good relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. It is to journey together inter-culturally, to be bridge-builders, with a focus being on healing and reconciliation. In order for a ministry to be vibrant and alive, relationships have to be strong; there needs to be community. We often underestimate the ministry of “presence”, but it really makes a difference in peoples’ lives when we can just “be” together.
As we have begun to establish relationships, we have tried to be attentive to one another’s needs and desires. We enjoy gathering together to share food, stories and to pray together. This has given birth to our monthly potluck and sharing circles which have become an ecumenical project. This monthly gathering has been one of the best ways to build bridges, as community is starting to form among the people and you can feel that relationships are really developing. Sharing circles give people opportunities to talk about their struggles, difficulties and questions in relation to faith and spirituality. Sometimes instead of a sharing circle, we have an evening of music and singing; people bring instruments and the room bursts with joy-filled energy!
Our Main Goals Are:
To gather: To have a gathering program that is co-administered by an Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to build relationships within and between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
To educate: To provide education and catechesis rooted in the medicine wheel and Sacred Scripture, fostering holistic health and growth.
To engage: to engage Elders from the Aboriginal and Christian communities, reclaiming our identities, and moving towards a mutual cross-cultural living directed towards integration.
To build up: to build community, partnerships, and liaison with other organizations and groups.
To tear down: to help tear down the barriers of racism and prejudice.
To heal: to foster healing and reconciliation within and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.