Visiting with Roseau River First Nation

How does your spirituality connect with the natural world? Does it impact every aspect of your life? Do you consider the teachings of your relatives to guide your faith? These are just a few of the questions that prodded the minds of the Outtatown Guatemala site this week. Our team had the absolute privilege of visiting the Roseau River Reserve for four days. The experience gave us all a look into how Indigenous people are living, including the conditions and their spirituality. We were warmly welcomed into the home of Colleen, our host, and her family. Colleen has been bringing in Outtatown students for exactly 10 years, her joy in seeing students come and learn about her culture was inspiring.

Going onto the reserve many of us had nerves and expectations circling in our heads. Some were unsure of how serious it would be, while others, myself included, worried about doing something wrong and being offensive. It’s hard to come into a place knowing that your ancestors caused their ancestors a lot of hurt, the repercussions of which are still felt today. To our surprise, we were not met with harshness or contempt from the history that had taken place. Instead we were given an abundance of unconditional love and grace throughout the week.

Some members of the Anishinabe community invited us to take part in multiple types of ceremonies and activities to be able to more fully understand their culture. One that definitely stuck out was the sweat lodge; specifically our team partook in a cleanse sweat. There were some nerves as we prepared for this ceremony, but we were generally excited to be involved in such a precious part of their culture. The sweat took a while to be prepared. The men of the group were told to prepare the fire for heating up rocks, the women were given the task of preparing the herbs for inside the sweat. Almost all of us entered the small lodge and slowly the rocks were added, creating lots of hot steam.

While the rest of the team went into the sweat lodge, a few of the girls were given the chance to prepare the feast. It’s tradition to eat a feast after experiencing the sweat. Through songs and dancing and a lot of laughter, we made a meal of soup, bread, and dumplings! It felt so natural to be preparing the food alongside two Anishinabe women who had grown up on the reserve. One of the most impactful things of our time there was how kind the people were.

Most of our time was spent learning about Anishinabe culture and also how unfairly they have been treated since Europeans settled in Canada. That is what really impacted me personally throughout the week. The Anishinabe have beautiful ways of thinking about the world, respecting the environment, prayer for every situation, and equality in governance. There’s no way to change the past, but it definitely inspired me to be part of the current day reconciliation. Most of the team feels inclined to discover which tribes and reserves are near where they live, and to create relationships with some of those people.

This was only one of the many cultural experiences we will have together this year, it definitely opened our eyes to see what it’s like coming into a different culture. It’s not about bringing solutions, but listening to their needs, stories, and knowledge. Also seeing how others live out their lives and their beliefs. We let ourselves be inspired, and along the way create relationships.

Written by Kyla



Changing Perspectives

Greetings, friends and family! We hope you’ve been doing well, and we thank you for your prayers for our group! It truly is an incredible thing to live in such a close-knit community and it’s hard to believe that we met each other only a few weeks ago. Together we have experienced adventures that I will remember all my life, and have shared many laughs around meals and campfires.

This past week we began our first academic classes, and we were excited to welcome our guest teacher Jodie Smith. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of these lessons when my site leaders first mentioned that we would begin them this week; a lot of our previous time had been spent doing team-building activities and hanging out with one another, and all of us knew that this was going to be a change from our usual routine. However, as class was in session I found myself fascinated by what Jodie had to say. Not only did we talk about the Old Testament stories, but one afternoon she led us into a discussion about lies we may believe about ourselves and the world around us. Deep conversations were had, tears were shed, and hugs were shared. We were vulnerable with each other and we definitely bonded through our openness and by comforting one another. It was incredible.

Another highlight this week was that, along with the South Africa site, we were able to participate in the Blanket Exercise! After a hearty breakfast and a swift drive from Camp Assiniboia, we arrived at a small church in Winnipeg’s North End. Before we began, many of us who hadn’t participated in the Blanket Exercise before weren’t sure what to expect. However, I’m confident that every single one of us left with new perspectives and passions. We began the activity by listening to Katherine, an Anishinabe woman, introduce to us a few of her people’s traditions. As we sat in a circle, we took part in a smudging ritual and it was really beautiful. Passing around a small bowl of dried sage, we used it to ‘smudge’ ourselves by asking God to bless every part of ourselves. We then began the main activity.

Many beautiful, vibrant blankets were spread on the floor, and we were told that they represented our country. We were all instructed to walk among each other on these blankets, to represent the Aboriginal peoples on their homeland. Filled with excitement, we weaved around one another, full of laughter and greetings as we shook hands and reunited with the students from the South Africa site. However, as the activity proceeded, we were instructed to fold our blankets smaller and smaller, and many of us were instructed to leave the ‘land’ as our numbers dwindled. Very quickly the atmosphere in the room turned from one of excitement to somber as we reflected on the injustices the Indigenous peoples of our country have faced over the course of history and are still facing today. It was very powerful to be a part of this visual experience that represents how unjustly the Indigenous peoples have been treated, and it definitely stirred every one of our hearts. As I looked around the circle at the faces that have become so familiar to me over these past few weeks I began to realize that we can’t change what has happened in the past, but we do have the power to shape the course of the future. It is up to all of us to inspire the change we wish to see in the world.

We will be spending the upcoming days at Roseau River Bible Camp and visiting Roseau River First Nation! Thanks again for your prayers and support as we continue adventuring together!



We’re All in The Same Boat

Hello friends and family back home! Welcome to the blog of Site 1 Guatemala, where we take you along our journey across Canada and Guatemala. Although you can’t remind us to keep our rooms in shape or even get a hold of us because of the cell service in the boonies, we’ll make sure you feel as though you are right beside us as we take you along this adventure, one jam packed week of fun at a time.

Crazy to think that it’s already been 10 days since we were meeting each other in the airports or at CMU. Hopping into those two fifteen seater vans wondering who you were going to sit by and what to ask after, “what’s your name?” Or, “where are you from?” Within 10 days we have experienced: laughter, struggle, challenging conversations, bonding and growth as a community of 27.

We left CMU and drove to Manitoba Pioneer Camp, which was only the beginning of an adventure that we had no idea what to expect from. From there we started off on our four-day canoe trip around Shoal Lake.  Luckily the wind was at our backs and we were able to sail with a tarp for the first 8 km. But the luck quickly ran out as we spent the rest of our evenings sheltered in our tents from the thunderstorms and rain showers. Thankfully, during the daytime, we were able to accomplish roughly 50 km of canoeing with no rain interfering. The trip consisted of singing at the top of our lungs in the bays, sharing cheesecake from a pot around the campfire, snuggling to stay warm in our tents, and a whole lot of laughter. Although we were all wet with rain, some more than others, it is easy to say that this experience was the foundation of a very closely knit community, lack of showers and all.



Once we were back at the camp, we hopped back in the vans and drove to Camp Assiniboia. Here we furthered our conversations on community and went through the expectations of the program together as a group. We also got to sit around the campfire and listen to our leaders tell their life stories. We each chose our committee (blog, photography, worship, entertainment, or van), which we will be responsible for over the rest of the year, and enjoyed a lot of down time having great conversation and developing our friendships even more. One of the highlights of Camp Assiniboia is the generosity of the camp. They are very open with letting us play with their baby bunnies and chickens which is always fun. While we were here, a bunch of baby bunnies were born and they let us go hold them. While reflecting later that evening, another student named Liam shared how holding the baby bunny in his hands reminded him of God’s protection and guidance over us. How God holds us in His hands just as we hold the bunnies.


The last highlight of the week so far was developing the “community covenant.” This is something we as a group discussed and brainstormed on what we value in community and hope to get out of this experience. It gave a greater purpose to the word “community” and this family that we get to be surrounded by for the next 6 months.

We are planning to hop back in the vans and travel to the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation next week! Thank you all for your prayers and support as we embark on this journey together!



Sunday’s Almost Here!


Wow, crazy that we are just a few days away from meeting all our students! We as site leaders have been on campus at CMU for a couple weeks now.  Essentially our time here has been in preparation to help the students have the best year possible!

One of the highlights has been bonding as a leadership team.  We’ve been sharing meals together, sharing life stories with each other, going thrift shopping and all sorts of other things.  We are thankful for our connection as team, especially because it encourages us towards connection with and service to our students when they arrive this Sunday!

Know that as we finish our last minute preparations, we are in deep prayer for all our students.  Safe travels to all, blessings on all the goodbyes at home, may the Lord meet all those in their nerves about coming here, and may he also build the excitement for what’s to come.

Hasta Domingo!

Your Guatemala Site Leaders Brette, Rachel, Luke and Dave