September 28, 2015
ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS SYLVAIN LAVOIE, OMI
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

VANCOUVER - Eighty Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants took part in a four-day session on decolonizing pastoral ministry, sponsored by the Western Canadian bishops.

Three resource persons gave major presentations during the Aug. 17-20 event.

Marie Battiste, educator and author of Decolonizing Education, spoke on the history of colonization, the negative impact of Eurocentrism, and the need for unraveling the long history of colonization and returning well-being to the Aboriginal peoples.

Michel Andraos, anthropologist and theologian, shared his knowledge and experience of the work of Bishop Samuel Ruiz in Chiapas, Mexico.

Finally, Mary LeMâitre, educator and specialist in social discourse, expounded on how colonial attitudes help form and are formed by a negative environment made up of many factors "in the air" such as art, social media, literature, etc.

Her presentation was made more poignant by sharing two of her poems with the group.

Also, Rennie Nahanee, who is studying to be a deacon, shared lessons he learned from his family on trust and forgiveness, and led a prayer drum song.

Prayer services incorporated First Nations spirituality, as did the opening Eucharist presided mostly in Dené by Archbishop Murray Chatlain.

A reflection shared by Sister Priscilla Solomon concisely sums up the content of this session: "We have failed to respect each other and the land. That old fabric of life must go.

"We must take apart the threads of colonization and create a new cloth of right relationships among brothers and sisters, making this land truly home for us all."