First a correction- Chief Willie Good did not attend residential school. Many family members did; he was speaking of the impact on his family and of their pain in his life.
Second, a bow with sincere appreciation to our wonderful hosts with whom we were billeted. In Lantzville, Rev Chillman and Jude, in Nanaimo, Syd and Joyce and Carol and Boyd, and in Duncan, Sarah and Gary. We got to know many wonderful people and we are most grateful.
Today was a long walk. One huge highlight was the many people who joined the SJ for parts of the day.
As we left St Paul's, Susan, Adela and Gill from Gabriola joined along with Daryth from St Philip's, Cedar until the first break.
In reflections as they departed, Susan said she wanted to think more about leadership and the loneliness that leaders must encounter as she watched Bishop walk at the front, alone and in silence. A message for all - our obligation to all Anglicans to support the bishop so that his walk (this one and the many more to come) are walked in the company of saints and angels.
Adela spoke of the honour she felt in joining the SJ today. Despite walking fast down the main road, "I sensed we were walking through history- leaving behind the regrettable past and embracing a new level of awareness and respect for 'all our relations'. A humbling and in-Spir-ing experience."
Later we were joined by Ruth and John from Ladysmith and Sara from Duncan for the journey into Chemainus. Our friends from Port Alberni, Jeanette and Amber also joined. As we walked together, Jeanette said she could not explain the 'pull' that the SJ had on her, "but I have to be here." Expressing what many pilgrims along the way are feeling.
And so we walked on. Traffic on the main road was heavy, but the sun shone and our spirits remained high. As soon as possible, we diverted off the highway to Chemainus road and more quiet. At our afternoon break, as the entire group shared cookies and stories in the motor home, rain poured down. As we got ready to resume the walk, the rain slowed to a trickle, so while we walked for some time in rain - not bad. God graced our path with several rainbows today.
On to St Michael and All Angels for a wonderful dinner and a meet-up with Revs Wimmer and Cutten. Here we were graced with the presence of Chief Brown of the Penelakut nation and elders Jill Harris and Val Bob.
In his presentation, Bishop read quotes from government and church documents of the 1920s and 1930s indicating the terrible attitude of officials at that time toward 'the Indian problem' - the basis and justification for residential schools and their devastating effects. He offered a sincere and emotion-filled "I am truly sorry" to the First Peoples present and reminded Anglicans of the work to be done.
In response, Jill Harris used the parable of the Good Samaritan to remind us all of our responsibility of all our neighbours. She asked for respect in her most gracious response to the bishop's apology.
Stories of the experience of the SJ were shared in the hope that words would give a picture of the indescribable honour of our participation. First Peoples have been gracious and kind every time we meet, and we are learning.
The most poignant moment occurred during the gift exchange as Rev Heather presented Chief Brown with a pewter replica of a dragonfly. In an emotional thanks, Chief Brown explained that her mother had passed away a few years ago. The symbol that they remember her mother by is a dragonfly, something unknown to Heather when she obtained the gift. As the story unfolded, Rev Michael said "more evidence of God's work," to which we all agreed.
Another day full of God's enormous love for us all; another day that we will not soon forget.
One more long day to come. Blessings.
Wayne for the team