Side by side
CULTURE. Reverend Annie Ittoshat, Montreal’s first Inuk minister, started a journey after leaving St. Paul’s Anglican Church in the West Island. It led to uniting with Reverend Brian Perron’s parish at Epiphany church in Verdun where they have created a responsive hub that unites communities in common purpose. They recently hosted a First Nations event that became another step along their shared path.
The welcoming atmosphere at Epiphany led the Montreal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network, a collection of cultural and Indigenous service providers and committees, to choose the church to host their Winter Gathering.
«Through Annie, we extended our hand to the community and we were invited by Guy Lacroix, who is responsible for cultural and Indigenous services in Verdun, to attend it as well,» explains Reverend Brian.
The Network meets two or three times a year to provide information about subjects that impact its 900 members and celebrate Aboriginal culture.
The January Gathering had an update from the homelessness committee about the upcoming launch of the housing research project and a presentation on the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples certain public services in Québec. News from the Justice working sub-committee about a letter to the social and racial profiling commission was also discussed, among other issues. During breaks, there were performances by the renowned multidisciplinary Métis artist Moe Clark, Inuit throat singing and a round dance ceremony that closed the Gathering.
THE ROAD CONTINUES
Reverend Annie came to Montreal about three years ago to comfort those traveling from the North for medical treatments and liaise with their home community. She still holds weekly services and visits to patients and families at the Ullivik (NQM) | Centre de santé Inuulitsivik. But it is the addition of her congregation to Epiphany that has turned truth and reconciliation from words into to concrete actions.
«With my ministry I often talk to the homeless, a majority of whom are Aboriginal. They are all running from something and I can relate to their pain. I have hope that I can touch them the way God has me. Being centrally located, Epiphany can be part of their healing process as well,» she says. She runs the Southern Quebec Inuit Association (SQIA) which has been offering Inuit feasts from Epiphany’s kitchen for all people, and she continues to help weave understanding and connection within the church, congregation and area.
The blending of Inuit and local congregations has strengthened the community of Verdun and made Epiphany church a place of reconciliation.