Care for the Hidden Ones
Last year CCS presented Rev. Canon Nancy Ford with the Companion of the Centre Award in recognition of her work as an agent of justice and compassion and for her commitment to the diaconate in the Anglican Church.
As we prepare for next week’s Annual General Meeting, we thought we’d check in with Nancy about what she’s up to these days.
Nancy feels that her ministry in the last year has been shaped by “the hidden ones and those who love them.” She reflects on the crowds of people who followed Jesus, and on his ability to know them – their stories, their suffering, their pain. This includes the widow of Nain burying her only son, those described as being possessed by demons, and the quiet ones who watched from hidden heights or simply came and touched him.
In Nancy’s context, the hidden ones include those impacted by the opioid crisis. “It has remained our number one health concern.”
In her role as deacon at Christ Church Cathedral, she facilitates a weekly 12-step recovery communion service, and holds two memorial services a year – on All Souls Day and just after Easter – to remember those who have died from overdose. These deaths are usually sudden and often stigmatized. “The story of a 9-year-old who called emergency services for their parents, only to have them die, leaves me prayerfully speechless.”
Nancy serves on the board of the Umbrella Society for Mental Health and Addiction. Umbrella is so well regarded that it won a provincial award for their supportive housing program; an amazing honour for such a small agency.
Judith Conway from the Comox Valley lost her 30-year-old only child in 2017 to a fentanyl overdose. Out of her pain, Judith create a huge tapestry devoted to telling the story of the impact of the opioid crisis. She took the tapestry to Rome where it was blessed by Pope Francis. When the tapestry was displayed at Christ Church, Nancy used the art installation as the basis for a series of events, with speakers such as the public health officer for Vancouver Island, an Opioid Agonist Treatment specialist (who is training to be a deacon), the founder of Moms Stop the Harm, and people with lived experience.
But there is hope, according to Nancy. “We are seeing a decrease in overdose deaths because of education, supervised consumption sites, and public health.” The hidden ones are being seen.