Teach-in at Ottawa Mennonite Church

All are invited to a Teach-in at Ottawa Mennonite Church, 1830 Kilborn Ave., on Saturday, May 13, from 7 – 9 pm. Guest speakers include Elder Barbara Dumont-Hill, Elder Rarihokwats, MP Romeo Saganash, Leah Gazan, and the Pilgrimage walkers. Come for a gentle and rich time of exploration and discovery about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), what authentic reconciliation looks like, and Bill C-262 (an Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).

News Summary

It’s May 5, and the Pilgrimage continues to attract media attention. Below is a summary of what we’ve found so far. The Pilgrimage invites you to call up your local media coverage and encourage coverage leading up to and including the Walk the Talk rally at Human Rights Monument in Ottawa on Saturday, May 13, 2 pm.

We’re all in this together…

We’re all in this together, but if you are unable to join the Pilgrimage, fear not! There are other ways you can participate. If there are walkers who could not otherwise afford to join, we want to help them financially. We are also planning to produce a short documentary film for teaching and learning at events to bring awareness of UNDRIP to folks who are unaware of the history of denial and oppression of Indigenous folks. Also welcome are your prayers and fasting. Pray that that there would be a great healing of relationships among Indigenous and settler peoples on the land called Turtle Island (Canada).

Walker Profile: Kandace Boos

Winnipeg, Man./Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. — Nine month old Junia has just become the youngest participant to join the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a 600 km walk through from Kitchener-Waterloo to Ottawa from April 23-May 14.

Her motherKandace Boos, Kandace Boos, 28, will be putting in the grunt work of carrying young Junia on her back, alongside her task of documenting the walk in art. Boos is an urban sketch artist, part of a global community of artists that practice drawing in cities, towns and villages they live in or travel to.

As a “core walker” in the Pilgrimage (those who plan to walk the entire distance), she will help to raise awareness of UNDRIP – the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – in churches, teach-ins, and conversation circles along the way.

The mother of two, Boos’ interest in peace and justice was piqued when she and her husband Mike began attending Sterling Mennonite Church about four years ago. Last year she participated in faith formation classes focusing on Indigenous relations, absorbing as much as she could and reading up on Indigenous land rights issues in her spare time. Recently she joined the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) Working Group at her church. “Land rights apply to my church and my home,” she said in a Skype interview, adding that she lives right across the street from Sterling MC.

Drawing of male modelThe graduate of BealART school in London, Ont., and Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener is an active leader of worship arts at Sterling. Recently she collaborated with Emma Smith, an Anishinaabe artist from Walpole Island, on a live art creation during a worship service at her church. “One of the TRC recommendations is for collaborative art between settlers and Indigenous peoples,” she said. The two have developed a growing friendship.

Boos wants to participate in the Pilgrimage because there is so much negativity in the news about minorities and women’s roles in society. “Part of why I am taking Junia on this pilgrimage is to show her that we can do very hard things, and that the voices and presence of women, even a baby girl and her mother, mean something… That we can take on this challenge that many men would never do, to use the white privilege in our presence in Ottawa to amplify the voices of those not as recognized in white, urban society.”

Boos has been struggling with severe post-partum depression, and is deeply grateful for all the supports – including her church – that are in place for those with mental health struggles. “If my brain had been in the body of an Aboriginal women, I would not have survived. I am walking for every aboriginal mother without access to solid prenatal care and post-partum support, every foster kid who doesn’t believe life will get better, and for every baby girl growing up with a depressed mother unable to get help.”

Her passion for peace and justice ministry has been growing since joining a Mennonite church. “I’m constantly surprised by the focus on peace and justice [at my church]. It’s a closer form of evangelism to what I understand Jesus would do. It’s a practice and a discipline that will make a difference. I expect to be a different person after the walk. That’s exhilarating!” she said. She hopes to create an art exhibition of her work and writings, as well as that of other artists she hopes to encounter on the pilgrimage.

Boos is clearly excited and looking forward to meeting others on the walk, and extends an invitation: “Anyone else that’s going on the pilgrimage and is artistically inclined, please bring your stuff!” she said.

Photo 1 cutline: Junia, 7 months, and her mother, Kandace Boos, plan to walk the 600 km Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights. – photo supplied

Photo 2 cutline: A 30 min drawing of a male model. Boos said,”I was trying to capture a sense of peace, as well as the very technically demanding foreshortened angle. Its a style I hope to use in portraiture of each core walker over the course of the Pilgrimage. – photo supplied

The Student Christian Movement of Canada supports the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights

The Student Christian Movement of Canada (SCM) says it is excited and humbled by the opportunity to join the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

In an email, Peter Haresnape, National Coordinator, writes, “We seek to learn, to act in solidarity, and to witness to the need for action following the direction of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report.”

Haresnape says SCM members will be encouraged to consider how they can participate – by walking for part of the Pilgrimage, supporting the walkers, or learning more about the issues and sharing that knowledge in their own context.

SMC believes that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #48, addressed to churches and faith communities, “… requires us to explore, understand, and animate UNDRIP” and calls on Christians to listen carefully, study diligently, work patiently, and act contemplatively.

“The Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights is an important way to engage,” says Haresnape.