Meeting Face to Face
While Theme Year and Integrating Year students gathered for their Learning Circles, the Central Council of CCS gathered for discernment, decision-making, and dialogue from Thursday, April 16 through to Sunday, April 19. Principal Maylanne Maybee reports:
We moved about physically – from Woodsworth House, Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday, to Beausejour on Saturday, and back to Winnipeg on Sunday. But there was also a lot of internal movement during the meeting. As always, we paid close attention to community building among old and new members of Council. We welcomed Penny Cummine, our new Anglican co-chair, Lindsay Allan, chair of the Human Resources Committee, and Jamie Bradshaw, convener of the Program Staff Search Committee. And we welcomed back Bob Osborne, who served once before on Central Council and returned as chair of the Planning and Governance Committee, and Patty Evans, previously a Council member and now volunteer Secretary.
Given the vacancy in our program staff team created by Ted’s retirement, we spent all day Friday discerning the needs, resources, and opportunities facing CCS, and sought to give direction to the work of the Search Committee. The resulting decisions from this discernment process will be made known in the weeks ahead.
A highlight of the meeting was our visit to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre on a beautiful spring morning. Our goal was to listen, learn, and deepen the growing partnership between our two schools. We were greeted by Adrian Jacobs, Keeper of the Circle, Mary Courtenay, Keeper of the Learning Circle, elders Stan MacKay and Grafton Antone, representing the SSSC board, and Eileen Antone. We began with smudging and thanksgiving for the gifts of the Creator, then introduced ourselves and shared stories of our schools, their history and their learning styles.
Adrian spoke of the legal agreement that brought together the Francis Sandy Theological Centre in Ontario, and the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre in Beausejour, Manitoba almost four years ago. He said beneath the legalese, the intent was strong to work together to form a single new First Nation, Métis, and Inuit theological school. CCS talked about the agreement that brought together two denominational schools under a single roof and a single name, and our desire to live a theology of justice as settlers in right relationship with Aboriginal peoples.
We discussed the effect that pending changes in The United Church of Canada would have on our respective schools. Adrian spoke of the text and the sub-text of the Comprehensive Review Committee Report — a text that uses the language of Council, and Circle, of mutuality, respect, and equity, but a sub-text that reveals the continuation of a colonizing mentality.
Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre will be preparing a special newsletter raising these concerns for distribution before and during the 42nd General Council. We would like to support and distribute the newsletter within the CCS community and encourage discussion of these concerns with commissioners in each Conference. Watch the CCS website for further details.
The conversation between our two schools was just a beginning. We ended with a stated desire to continue walking in partnership, joining our efforts to support one another in the days ahead, educating ourselves about the deeper issues of relations among settler and Aboriginal peoples in Canada, and holding future joint meetings of our boards or executives as time and resources allowed.