Principal Maylanne Maybee writes:
At the Program Consultation last week, we had an intense conversation about partnerships. Adrian Jacobs, Keeper of the Circle at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre was with us. Chris Trott, Warden of St. John’s College Winnipeg, raised the question of how to forge partnerships with Aboriginal communities and schools. Was it appropriate for the non-Aboriginal party to take the initiative to invite collaboration with the Aboriginal party or parties? Would that not just be a re-enactment of colonial power where the White person knows the answers?
Adrian’s answer was clear and straight: your participation in issues and events of concern to Aboriginal people is the invitation. For me, that was one of the major “take aways” from the consultation. If CCS wants to deepen our partnerships for theological education with Aboriginal communities, we issue the invitation by what we do and with whom.
Members of the Central Council get to read detailed staff reports month by month. If all our CCS Friends had that opportunity, you would see how closely our staff are involved in issues and events of shared concern. Ted Dodd served on the search committee for the Keeper of the Circle at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre in the first part of 2012 until the hiring and celebration of Adrian Jacobs’ appointment. He has continued since then to host and prepare light meals for meetings of Adrian’s support team. Ted has also worked at integrating into the students’ Learning Circle opportunities to learn with and from Aboriginal peoples in Manitoba, including three days at the North End Community Ministry, a day at the offices of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and an upcoming day at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre with coordinators of the Mennonite Central Committee Canada’s Indigenous Work Program.
Ann Naylor serves on the All Native Circle Conference Staff Committee, and has even prepared CCS a couple of times for the possibility of opening up our meeting and office space to ANCC staff while their office is being renovated. Ann participated in the search committee for the Keeper of the Learning Circle at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, and is now taking steps to integrate one of their students into our spring Leadership Development Module. She worked with the planning team for Feast for Friends, a daylong event in September to build friendship, learning, and trust among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
The seeds of partnership are being sown. My hope and vision for CCS is that we will sow them widely and deeply. Some of us on staff and many of our students have been involved in the Idle No More Movement, or fasted in solidarity with Chief Theresa Spence in the days leading up to and following January 11, or otherwise supported the movement to respect and advocate for right relationship. I am grateful to be part of a school for which this is a priority.