Community, Grief, and Learning: walking together to remember Brody

Community, Grief, and Learning: An Interview with Brenda Curtis and Keith Hall

On April 6, 2018, the bus of the Humbolt Broncos hockey team collided with a semi truck. Sixteen people died, including team statistician Brody Hinz. CCS graduate Brenda Curtis and Integration Year student Keith Hall conducted Brody’s memorial service. Janet Ross spoke to Brenda and Keith about that time.

Brenda: When the first reports came in about the bus crash we were in the middle of an ecumenical community concert at the Catholic Church with the Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda. The choir had just stepped on stage and was beginning with a countdown: 10, 9, 8, … when someone showed me their cell phone – “Humboldt Broncos have been in an accident”. The choir sang a few songs but soon everyone in the audience had their cell phones out. By 8:15 pm we knew there were fatalities and that they were significant. The choir was asked to wrap up quickly and Father Joseph offered a prayer, naming the uncertainty of knowing about the fatalities. Everyone was invited to go to the Uniplex to wait together for more news. It was interesting that we were all at this concert, including our ecumenical ministerial group, and could all be at the Uniplex together. When we arrived, the city of Humboldt already had counsellors and many support people in place.
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You helped this leader become a more faithful ally

Barbara Hansen already had a heart for justice when she arrived as a student at CCS. In fact, she met her spouse, Stephen, at a hearing in Calgary about the Mackenzie pipeline 42 years ago. On April 28 of this year, the 2014 CCS graduate boarded a bus with about 48 other people from Vancouver Island, to stand in solidarity with the Water Protectors in opposition of the Trans Mountain pipeline at the Kinder Morgan site in Burnaby, BC.

What made her catch a 7 a.m. ferry to spend a Saturday outside in the rain? Both her sense of being called to a ministry of standing with the marginalized and oppressed, and her belief that ministry includes all of creation. Barbara said, “Sadly, the process for the Trans Mountain pipeline misrepresents the issues and the fairness of the results of the process. The rights of Indigenous people are not being respected, and because the cost of being heard is still prohibitive their voices are not being heard. Their traditional way of life, inclusive of all creation towards the future, is being ignored for the sake of “progress”, resulting in increased emissions and environmental impacts from fossil fuels.

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Planting seeds of social justice

The Oxford Coalition for Social Justice is a small volunteer run group dedicated to addressing multiple issues that negatively impact the life and health of residents in Oxford County, Ontario. It’s not easy taking on large gravel companies who want to carve up the landscape, or challenging a plan to dump garbage in a new private landfill. Knowing that ‘Strategic Litigation against Public Participation’ aka SLAPP suits are a threat to them, and opposed at every step by those who have a financial investment, these activists bring to this work passion for sustainability and human rights, commitment and constant vigilance. Taking a stand can have personal consequences. Progress is slow.

So when Christian Crawford approached the coalition about the possibility of doing her required CCS field placement with them, they were delighted. Here was someone willing to devote twelve hours a week to the work they believe in. Yay! But what could a ministry student offer them? Continue reading “Planting seeds of social justice”

A Place of Dignity

When I reach Don Evans he’s in a hotel room in Portugal. He’s just woken up from a nap after spending the day touring therapeutic communities for people addicted to drugs and meeting with politicians. Don is the executive director of Our Place in Victoria, BC, and a CCS student. Our Place is a church-supported outreach ministry located within walking distance of the Legislature.

BC is in the midst of a devastating crisis of drug overdoses and BC’s capital city has not been exempt. This past August, there were 42 overdoses on the Our Place property alone. Don is in Europe learning how countries like Portugal have cut their addiction rate in half and exploring therapeutic communities in Italy where they treat and support the whole person, not just the chemical addiction.

A shipping container in the courtyard is one of the newest ministries at Our Place Society. Fitted out with desks and cubicles it serves as an overdose prevention tool. Staff of the new Overdose Prevention POD include paramedics. POD = place of dignity. This both catches my interest and speaks to how Don’s faith has shaped his work. Continue reading “A Place of Dignity”