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Canada's Apartheid, by John Stackhouse
Stories
Introduction
  Nov. 3

Welcome to Harlem on the Prairies
  Nov. 3 (Saskatoon, SK)

Crystal's choice: The best of both worlds
  Nov. 5 (Mississauga, ON)

How the Mi'kmaq profit from fear
  Nov. 6 (Cape Breton, NS)

The healing power of hockey
  Nov. 7 (The Pas, MB)

Norma Rae of the Okanagan
  Nov. 8 (Westbank, BC)

Comic genius or 'niggers in red face'?
  Nov. 9 (Regina, SK)

Praying for a miracle
  Nov. 10 (Lac Ste. Anne, AB)

To have and to have not
  Nov. 12 (Moosonee, ON)

Trouble in paradise
  Nov. 19 (Tofino, BC)

A cut of the action
  Nov. 26 (Wabigoon, ON)

The young and the restless
  Dec. 3 (Ashern, MB)

The wireless warrior's digital dream
  Dec. 10 (Ottawa,ON)

'Everyone thought we were stupid'
  Dec. 14 (Salluit, QC)

First step: End the segregation
  Dec. 15 (Last in the series)

 

Praying for a miracle

Story by John Stackhouse. Photos by Patti Gower.
The Globe and Mail, November 10, 2001

Part 2 of 8: Taking charge of the Pilgrimage


Lac St. Anne locator One of the people who inspire Piché's faith is Charles Wood, a Cree man who was born in the same year as Piché, in the same Prairie poverty, and endured - at times thrived in - an Oblate residential school. Wood refuses to sue the missionaries, saying they did nothing worse than yank his ear for not speaking English properly.

He believes that natives can do something else to ensure justice, by taking charge of the pilgrimage that he has followed since childhood in the early 1940s, when his grandparents brought him to the lake, located about 60 kilometres from Edmonton. A savvy administrator, Wood has become Piché's opposite number, a pragmatist with entrepreneurial ideas who can help the 112-year-old festival to survive.


“For us aboriginals, we want to return to what has been here for hundreds of years and protect this site as a sacred site, a healing site.”
Charles Wood

He also has no shortage of younger native pilgrims who want to help out, whereas the declining Oblates have fallen from 165 members in 1980 to fewer than 100 today. Of that, no more than 30 are active in the ministry and only one is native.

The native directors have already explained to the priests the need to create a governing board, hire an administrator and seek ways to market the festival. Native bands also have volunteered to conduct services, collect trash and police the campgrounds.

Wanting to do more than extend the Oblates' legacy, however, Wood has suggested a renewal of purpose, a return of sorts to the spirit of the land and the lake that existed before the first black robes saw it. As is true of many aboriginal views of Christianity, he sees the pilgrimage in a different, mystical light - one that manages to project Ste. Anne and the legendary grandmother spirit as one.

"For us aboriginals," Wood says, "we want to return to what has been here for hundreds of years and protect this site as a sacred site, a healing site."

THIS STORY AT A GLANCE (Parts 1 to 8):


Photo Essay
Cross purposes


1. 'There has to be a reason this is happening'
Begging forgiveness from the pilgrims rather than preaching to them

2. Taking charge of the Pilgrimage
'We want to return to what has been here for hundreds of years and protect this site as a sacred site, a healing site'

3. 'This place is for all people'
Expanding the congregation

4. The healing waters
'I feel the power here. I feel the spirituality. You can't deny something that has helped people find goodness'

5. Begging forgiveness
Seeing the positive side of residential schools

6. Easing the marriage of cultures
Oblates preserve native languages and traditions by recording them

7. 'Our belief is there's no such thing as hell'
Battle of faith in residential schools
8. 'People use it [the festival] as a big social gathering'
Making the pilgrimage pious again


 
 

interactives
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photo essays
Two worlds - photo essay


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