The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs was put into place by the Assembly of Western Bishops in 2007. They immediately engaged Sr. Eva Solomon to provide educational sessions on First Nations spirituality and culture across all the dioceses of west and northern Canada. A sumer session (Directions on Aboriginal Ministry), a Catholic elders dialogue and a week long cultural wareness experience are the main activities of what we call the Building Bridges project.
The Standing Committee also decided to meet annually with First Nations representatives to journey more closely together. This second such meeting was focused on marriage and family life. Sr. Eva informed us about her activities. We went through a process led by Greg Dunwoodyusing images of a tree that could be either a problem or an opportunity. We explored the roots of what is working well, and the fruits that could be expected from solid roots of marriage and family life.
The outcome was three possibility statements. One group's statement is as follows: Taking the best of our Catholic faith (prayer, scripture, knowledge of Jesus Christ), traditional culture and communication skills, we seek to call forth and empower core couples to model covenant relationships based on cmpassion and forgiveness and the met human needs to be loved, to belong and to be valued, and to provide sessions on marriage and family life honouring couples, families, youth, anniversaries of sobriety and lay leaders who laboured for the church in the past.
The group also ciscussed finances, the future of the Building Bridges project, involvement with the Truth and Reconciliaiton Commission, as well as the experience of having international priets come to minister in Canada among the First Nations peoples.
Here the participants are in session in one of the modules that make up the Domano Retreat Centre in prince George.
Sr. Eva always brings along enough creative elements to decorate the room and provide a meaningful and symbolic centerpiece.
The tree of opportunity was part of the process that we went through. Participants were asked to identify the roots of positive events and realities, as well as the possible positive outcomes from those roots as fruit on the tree.