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Mapping a path to truth and reconciliation

Training facilitators Melanie Delva (national reconciliaton animator), Suzanne Rumsey (PWRDF public engagement coordinator), Esther Wesley, former director of the Anglican Healing Fund, and the Rev. Andrew Wesley, Indigenous elder.

February 10, 2020

By Janice Biehn

At General Synod in July 2019, a historic motion to create a self-determining Indigenous Church was passed. There was a general call for more education for reconciliation tools to support Settlers and Indigenous Canadians alike in learning more about truth and reconciliation.

PWRDF is poised to help fill the gap with Mapping the Ground We Stand On, an education for reconciliation tool first developed four years ago by staff from PWRDF and the Anglican Church of Canada to better explain the concept of terra nullius (empty land) and the Doctrine of Discovery in a tangible and physical way.

It has been presented to dozens of communities across Canada and the fourth edition of the Facilitator’s Guide will be printed in early 2020. But it will get an even greater boost. In June 2019, PWRDF brought nine volunteers from across Canada to Winnipeg to train them as facilitators. Nova Scotia filmmaker Tim Wilson documented the public Mapping Exercise and produced this video designed to promote the workshop in parishes.

Each of the four Ecclesiastical provinces has been equipped with a large floor map, a key component of the exercise and the facilitators are working together to share this resource. The nine facilitators are:

  • B.C./Yukon province – Nancy and John Denham (Diocese of New Westminster) and Michael Shapcott (Diocese of Kootenay)
  • Rupert’s Land province – Elizabeth Bonnett and Jennifer Marlor (Diocese of Rupert’s Land)
  • Ontario province – Greg Smith (Diocese of Huron) and Cheryl Marek (Diocese of Toronto)
  • Canada province – Gillian Power and Mike MacKenzie, (Diocese of Nova Scotia/PEI)

Cheryl Marek worked with filmmaker Wilson to produce another video about how the mapping exercise can encourage us open our eyes to discovering Indigenous communities all around us. Watch here or below.

Michael Shapcott is the Executive Director of the Sorrento Centre, an Anglican retreat in British Columbia. Over the summer, he presented nine Mapping Exercises there to youth, associates of the centre and participants in summer programming. “Approximately 180 people participated,” he writes. “Each event had a slightly different focus – often depending on the group. For instance, in one offering, we had a woman whose grandmother taught in a residential school in Newfoundland. She described her grandmother as a very kind and firm woman, and insisted that if there had even been the hint of impropriety, then there would have been immediate action from the grandmother. This prompted an interesting and very useful conversation about ‘when good people are engaged in bad things.’” He added: “I am grateful for the opportunity to be trained in the exercise, and see it as a great tool for our reconciliation journey together.”

The facilitators are actively connecting with those who have indicated they would like to book a Mapping Exercise workshop in their church, diocese or community. If you are interested in learning more, visit our website at pwrdf.org/ mapping-exercise or contact Public Engagement Coordinator Suzanne Rumsey at srumsey@pwrdf.org.

– A version of this article first appeared in the February 2020 issue of Under the Sun.