The GC43 youth pilgrims made their way across Canada this summer, with the goal of visiting every United Church conference, including a stop at the 43rd General Council meeting in Oshawa, ON. Read all the blog posts from their journey and see more pictures on their Facebook page and Instagram feed.

After our adventures through Ontario came to an end, we travelled to Treaty 1 territory to visit the All Native Circle Conference. Treaty 1 is the traditional land of the Métis and the Anishinabek, but commonly known post-colonization as Winnipeg.

Our first stop in this Conference was to the All Native Circle Conference office where we met with Indigenous leader, Rey Anderson, and Conference staff Cheryl Jourdain. As we gathered around their conference table — the same table the members from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission gathered around in their meetings — we talked and listened to the history and teachings that have come from the office we were visiting. The All Native Circle Conference office has played significant roles in the life of the Indigenous church, including being a medical centre for Indigenous people, and even the house of former Moderator Stan MacKay for a period of time.

A member of the GC43 Pilgrim group shares a message at St. Mary's Road United Church in Winnipeg.
Credit: 
Courtesy of the GC43 Pilgrims

The next thing we did was visit the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, where we were greeted by the groundkeepers. We were able to take the time and experience the enriched creation that was present in that place. We were brought to the sweat lodge and told the significant aspects of that ceremony.

The teachings that Rey shared with us taught the importance of documents such as the TRC Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They gave us pocket-sized versions of these documents so that we can carry them close to us in our bundles. This way they can be a constant reminder of our role in Right Relations as Treaty people. A bundle is a group of items that anybody can carry on their journey to better our relations with the Creator.

Rey also shared the tradition of a sharing circle with us and the importance of coming in from the east and completing a full circle. The importance of this is to signify the east representing the rising of the sun and the beginning of a new day. This led to an important time of reflection for all of us as we thought hard about how we are living into right relations. It was shared that the road to right relations is built on good deeds, not good intentions, and following through with our promises.

To end our day, we travelled to St. Mary’s Road United Church where we shared a meal and community with some members of that congregation. Our group led parts of the worship service and we talked about our experience on this pilgrimage with them. We were able to share different things we have learned from across the country in this worship, whether that be the actions to “Halle, Halle, Halle” from Gander, Newfoundland or the actions to the New Creed from London Conference. All in all, our time in All Native Circle Conference was a great time spent sharing and learning in community.

— by Ian MacGregor, the GC43 Pilgrim from London Conference, and Isabella Barbeiro, the GC43 Pilgrim from Manitou Conference.