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I am delighted to read/hear about CAM-C. It has been my passion for some time to see a practical side to aboriginal ministry and, more broadly, to the issue of healing and reconciliation. Reconciliation happens through relationships.

It's been at least 20 years since I lived and worked in Wallaceburg, ON, midway between Sarnia and Chatham and adjacent to Walpole Island Indian Reserve. Back then, I was the editor of the town's weekly newspaper. Joey Gilbert was the chief at Walpole Island Indian Reserve. He was also an evangelist and he regularly preached in the local CRC and taught catechism during an extensive vacancy.

Joey and I often talked about the different cultures and how they were so misunderstood. To make a long story short, we created the Diversity Awareness Coalition (I had suggested the Anti-Racism Coalition but Joey deemed it too negative). It consisted of a half dozen community leaders from the Town of Wallaceburg and a half dozen community leaders from Walpole Island. We regularly met together and then developed teams of two—one from each community—who would visit area schools, churches, factory floors, service club lunches, etc., to talk about the two communities—the economy, the ecology (orchids grow in the wild on Walpole Island), racism, and bigotry.

I have seen this model as an ideal way for aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities (especially those living side by side) to get together, to learn from each other and to build cultural bridges.

This model can certainly start through CRCs that are located close to aboriginal communities. Reconciliation begins by building bridges, sharing common interests, and dealing with issues of racism and bigotry.

Federal government programs have their place but true reconciliation and healing happens at the community level.

May CAM-C be blessed as you bring healing to the nation.

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