New Aboriginal Ministries Coordinator
Background to the Aboriginal Ministry, Building Right Relationships:
Ian McLean, the diaconal ministry student, worked with KUC as our Aboriginal Ministries Coordinator, from Sept. last year until this past June.
He initiated the Aboriginal Ministries program by making preliminary contacts with indigenous communities and organizations, as well as Thompson Rivers University, and by establishing an overview of the Ministry project itself.
Ian coordinated several events including the Kairos Blanket Exercise, and several Wéytk (Welcome) Wednesday educational events, including one at TRU with renowned first nations author Richard Wagamese, which was attended by more than 250 people.
Ian also began weekly “Reconciliation Circles” at Kamloops United, facilitated by Richard Wagamese and others.
This project is a grass roots community-based initiative. Ian’s efforts, with the help of many folks from the congregation, have helped to create a “face of reconciliation” here at KUC showing we are committed to establishing a relationship with First Nation’s peoples.
As a result KUC is becoming known for its efforts in working on building right relationships with Indigenous Peoples.
Ian helped us secure program funding for 2015/16, in the form of a Provision Grant from BC Conference, and also another grant to extend the Ministry in 2016/17. Continuation of the Aboriginal Relations Ministry will affirm the work we have begun. We hope to proceed with a focus on community engagement with local and regional aboriginal individuals and communities.
It is our belief that developing this Ministry will benefit the congregation, the wider Kamloops community, local aboriginal communities, and individuals, as we continue to build and enhance relationships.
This year we hope to help bridge the gap of misunderstandings by engaging with First Peoples in their cultural practices, celebrations, gatherings, and spiritual teachings. In the coming months the program’s major undertaking will be to try and provide the congregation and the wider community with the opportunity to do just that.
As a result, it is hoped that Kamloops United will become a trusted and respected companion to Indigenous Peoples as we move forward with the Truth and Reconciliation process. We know that this important work will take time, considering Canada’s colonial settler history, but we know that we have made a good start.
Ian has moved on to a new Ministry position in Peachland. But Council Circle and the Community Outreach Advisory Committee, which oversees the position, felt it was important to hire a new Aboriginal Ministries Coordinator in order to cultivate this important Ministry at KUC. It will be the coordinator’s job to continue the dialogue that we have begun, attempting to move the Aboriginal Relations Ministry into the community.
Consequently in September a position description was developed and a recruiting committee was formed.
We are very happy to announce that Alix Dolson has accepted our invitation to become the new Aboriginal Ministries Coordinator.
Alix is especially well qualified for the position. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Social Work degree, and a Masters of Arts, Human Security, and Peacebuilding. She also has exceedingly strong communication skills.
Having worked at Camp Grafton and with the children here at KUC, she is of course familiar with the United Church ethos, and she has a passion for social justice. She has also done work in India and South America with marginalized people.
Alix currently works with the Y Women’s shelter and many of her clients are First Nations people.
We believe that with her education, skills, and experience, Alix is very well equipped to undertake this position.
Alix started in the position Nov. 1st and has many ideas on how to build this important Ministry at KUC.
Stay tuned to learn about the opportunities to engage with Indigenous people in the community. Thank you all for your continued interest in, and support of, this Ministry.