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Le Messager Verdun - - ACTUALITÉS - DA­VID COX da­

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.


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.

(Pho­to: Cour­te­sy – Brian Per­ron)

The blen­ding of Inuit and lo­cal congre­ga­tions has streng­the­ned the com­mu­ni­ty of Ver­dun and made Epi­pha­ny church a place of re­con­ci­lia­tion.

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