Learning at Roseau River

Hola! Buenos Dias Amigos. Running a bit behind on updating all of you, but do not fear! Today we are going to let you hear about some of the crazy experiences we had the privilege to partake in while being welcomed on the Roseau River Reserve.

During this week we were staying at Roseau River Bible Camp which was about a 30 minute drive to the reserve. Each morning we loaded up our vans with bag lunches in hand and set out for the reserve to take in all they had to offer. This was quite an exciting time for the community due to the fact that we were joining them in the midst of their Winter Festival! This was just as exciting for us, because there was so many interesting ceremonies and traditions that we got to participate in throughout the week.

The first day of arriving at the reserve we met our liaison Colleen who toured us around the community, showing us the different traditions and allowing us to see different glimpses into the Anishinaabe culture through interactive experiences. We listened to a variety speakers from the community who told personal testimonies as well as what it was like to live in the Roseau River Reserve. Amongst these speakers, we had a young mom come and share with us her personal testimony and the difficulties of living on the reserve. This was hugely eye opening experience for us as she touched on the struggles of drugs, alcohol, peer pressure and getting out of the cycle of poverty. Getting out of the cycle of poverty is quite a difficult task and for her it is something she is still working towards.

One thing this women really stressed to us as a group was to spread a “good rumour” about the her people. Many of us came in undereducated about the culture, however this opportunity of seeing the community first hand broke down barriers we had up before visiting. It has allowed us to diminish stereotypes and see the progress as they work towards ridding the community of various temptations such as alcohol on the reserve. One lady shared her story about how alcohol is so very damaging to people she loved in her life and she stated “Alcohol is not our friend”. This is was encouraging statement to us, because it is frequently found that many are so quick to judge that it is a problem on reserves, and that they’re not working towards fixing it. Through this experience we are able to confirm that the perspective you gain from looking in from the outside is not an adequate representation of how things really may be.


Our crew assisting with the set up of the tents for the celebrations.

The second day of being on the reserve we got to do more hands on things and show our love to the community through acts of service. As a group we assisted in setting up tents and helped prepare different elements for the upcoming winter festivities. That was the day many of us were anticipating, as we got the opportunity to participate in a traditional sweat lodge. Sweat Lodges are a fairly big deal in the Anishinaabe culture as they have high spiritual and purifying elements. A Sweat lodge is a small dome structured hut that is entirely covered in tarp and blankets to hold the heat in, with a small pit in the centre where we placed heated rocks, which are hugely symbolic in the ceremony of the sweat lodge and are referred to as ‘grandfathers’. At times it can reach up to 42 degrees celsius once the door is closed. Once the sweat lodge begins they close the small opening and all participants sit in a circle around the heated rocks. Going around the circle, each person shares a prayer to the Creator or a song, which often ends in loud eruptions in shakers, banging on drums and joyful shouting. This experience was a huge learning opportunity in how the Anishinaabe people worship their creator as well as cleanse and purify their bodies. They stressed to us the importance of this tradition in their culture, and was quite an honour to be accepted into it and even have the privilege of preparing the sweat lodges that we participated in.


Witnessing the construction of the ceremonial drum called the “little boy”. This drum and other musical instruments were used in the sweat.

On Thursday morning we woke up bright and early to attend a traditional sunrise ceremony that kicked off the winter festival. This was a significant event in the community as the fire would be maintained for the whole duration of the four day festival. Later on our team’s women worked alongside the local women of the reserve to help prepare traditional food for the ceremonies. This experience was such an honour for our women as we were welcomed into local homes without any hesitation. They took us under their wings and showed us the ropes of preparing some traditional indigenous food, and through this we were able to to bond and find similar ground in how we interacted with a new culture, realizing how the indigenous people aren’t so different than we are. Later on we had a few fierce warriors from our group who tackled the task of skinning a deer. The natives showed us how to gut it, sort it, and educated us on the importance of an animal giving its life for their use, which is hugely stressed in the Anishinaabe culture. Afterwards we joined the community for a ceremony celebrating their hunters. This consisted of a variety of traditions including dancing, singing and celebrating life. To end our day we went to the K-8 school on the reserve and participated in different interactive activities, as well as having a various information sessions on the culture and values of the Anishinaabe people.

Friday was day we said goodbye to all our new friends made in the Roseau River community. We started off our day by going on a driving tour of the reserve and different significant sights in the area. We stopped at a place where they would perform a Sun Dance, as well as another sight where more ceremonies happen during the summer months. During this time we explored the grounds of the ceremonies and had free time to climb trees and hang out by the river. Creation is dear to the Anishinaabe people’s hearts, so through this time of reflection we seized the opportunity to take in the beauty around us and spend time in God’s creation. From there we proceeded to the school for the last time, where we had ladies from the community come in and teach us how to do bead work. We gained a new appreciation for their hard work once we began to try and master the art of beading ourselves. Many didn’t have that great of an outcome, however the experience was greater than the art that came out of our efforts. At the end of the school day we had the privilege to sit in on the closing ceremony that happens at the end of each day. This is a time where they end their day in song and send the kids off with a prayer to the Creator. During this time they had 5-7 young boys alongside a teacher playing the music on a large drum in the middle of the gym. It was so encouraging to see the young boys being taught how to the play the drum and sing, displaying the importance of their culture living on in the generation to come. So simple yet beautiful.


Enjoying the peaceful river next to a ceremony site on our last day with the Reserve.

All in all this was hands down one of the most impacting and eye opening experiences thus far. We learned so much and will take away so much more than just the information we gained. As they made us feel apart of their community for this week, it began to give us a new understanding of Anishinaabe people. This has allowed us to understand what working towards reconciliation looks like and how we can go about building a bridge of understanding for the many generations to come.


Site One Guatemala

The Winnipeg Urban Plunge

A number of weeks late but better late than never!

Hey Ya’ll! A few weeks late, however I’m happy to say we have successfully accomplished urban plunge number 1 in downtown Winnipeg. What exactly is an Urban plunge you ask? So this time around we teamed up with MB mission and their ‘Discipleship on Mission’ team to learn about the poverty in our backyard. So on Tuesday, October 4th we headed to One88 princess with lots of anticipation for what was ahead. Day one started with a session lead by Janelle from MB mission where we talked about what is in store as we headed out to tour the north end of Winnipeg. We were split up into groups of 3 and given a bag with $2 each, bus passes, a map and 8 locations to visit while roaming around the city. Some locations included, rooming houses, soup kitchens, drop in centres for adults and youth and immigration resource centres. Each team had different experiences while learning more about the injustices and how we can build bridges to understanding the people in the circumstances we encountered. Some teams were able to talk to people they met on the street, and were given the opportunity to pray over them. Kari, Steph and Caleb spent their $6 dinner on pizza. After praying that God would provide them with a specific person to give the left over pizza to they looked around them to notice a man waving them down across the street. Walking over with pizza in hand the man was ecstatic to be given the pizza. The group explained that he was overjoyed just from that simple act of kindness. While some groups were able to show Jesus’ love by just being able to learn about the different organizations we were introduced to. The next two days we were given different locations to serve at, whether it was yard work at a rooming house, chatting with people at a drop in centre or serving lunch at a soup kitchen. Each one of us came from that experience in a different way. Heather, Kayla and Cassidy were given the opportunity to paint a mural on the wall of Manitoba house, an after school program house for at risk children in the downtown area of Winnipeg. They also got to hangout with the awesome kids that came for dinner and bible study after school. Steph, Alex, Shelby and Caleb were given the opportunity to visit The Law Courts in Winnipeg. Here they learned more about the justice system, specifically towards gang culture. They were able to sit in on multiple court cases and toured the city to learn more about specific gangs within Winnipeg. Adam, Julia, Max and Cassidy got to go to the Indigenous family centre. There they got to participate in a sharing circle where they heard first hand stories of cultural genocide within our society, the injustices indigenous people face and ways to move forward toward reconciliation. Overall it was a very impactful 3 days in downtown Winnipeg, we can’t wait for Urban Plunge #2 in Downtown Vancouver.

Site One Guatemala!!!