Canadian history has a way of showing us what we have forgotten. There has been many horrors revealed around passive genocide and the fur trade. There is also dislocation and generational trauma. Yet there is some truth of good to be revealed. One simply has to look to the Metis people. For it is a positive that came out of atrocities of the past.

How? It was a journey, it was back when religion quasi-understood their role in society. See “country wives” were one of the horrors visited upon the First Nations under the fur trade. That is, Europeans forcing themselves onto Aboriginal women. For those whose “Husbands” were English or Scottish it was a divisive choice: The child would be European raised and never know their Aboriginal roots, or choose to return to the village with the child and raise them as an Aboriginal.

For those of mixed heritage of French and Aboriginal descent, the Roman Catholic Church kept the groups together. It raised up a uniquely Canadian culture, a mixture of First Nations, New France and Catholicism. A great people and nation grew up within a new land.

Unfortunately, it was also an oppressed people. People left on the outside. Oppressed. In fact, a new, hateful, definition of the term Metis (mixed blood) emerged- – One and a Half Man.  In the vernacular of the 19th century to early 20th century that was one half white, one half Indian and one have demon. Not exactly an honouring term, yet it was one the community would overcome.

Yes it would take two rebellions, and almost five decades after the Battle of Batoche that ended in a near genocide by Gatling gun. This people, who at the Red River Rebellion issue the first declaration of human rights in Canada. Yup, it wasn’t Saskatchewan under Premier Douglas, but Louis Riel, Prairie hero and freedom fighter (and from my perspective one more worthy in my mind to be our patron saint than Jean Brebeuf).

So five decades after the failed second rebellion, the Metis people would finally win the right to be seen as full persons in Canada. A community that came together, shaped a culture, endured oppression and being seen as less than. A group that endured, stayed together, and overcame.

So what does the story of the Metis hold for us today? That it is in common shared experience, and seeing one another as full citizens, and persons in which we excel. Also, it is through the voices from the oppressed and the margins that the story of justice and equality emerges.

Originally posted on Metro News:

Calgary charities say a reversal to Alberta’s Charitable Donations Tax Credit (CDTC) will likely mean a lull in donations come the 2016 tax year.

In the provincial budget, the Alberta government explained the 2007 increase in the CDTC from 12.75 per cent to 21 per cent of donations over $200 was “not an effective tax measure.”

Now, those on the front lines of Alberta’s social services say the decrease — expected to save the province $90 million annually — will put the pinch on donations in an economic climate already plagued by an expected $5-billion deficit to due to dropping oil prices.

“Many people are going to be cutting back in many different areas and charitable giving will likely be one of them,” said Sharon DeBoer, director of development with the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

“I was disappointed,” she said.

“We’ve already seen charitable giving go down this year as a…

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It is a unique thing when one’s vocation and travel patterns intersect with familial history.  As a student, there was a drive within me not only for the academic/theoretical bent but also the practical and pragmatic. Through my monastic formation within Druidery/Buddhism/Franciscanism the practice of pilgrimage was important.

These would intersect while working on my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts I served building ministries in the city, but also served aiding those without homes rediscovering themselves and what it meant to live in community and home. That’s right I was a humble shelter worker.

On vacations I would explore the history of Canada from coast to coast, doing outreach with those experiencing homelessness and discovering deeper truths of what it meant to be not only a Canadian, but a human being. It was in one of my earliest trips to Winnipeg, AB that I discovered the actual shelter history of Canada, through the Winnipeg Shelter that historically was a Methodist Outreach, and whose most famous lead minister/director was James Shaver Woodsworth.

I must admit this man’s pragmatic theology became a guide for my journey over the past 15 years.  He was one of the members of Canada’s Social Gospel movement; was arrested at the Winnipeg General strike and moved from Orthodox Christianity to Pantheism (although under newer definitions I would say he became Panentheist).  The minister would move from the ministry of the Methodist Church, to planting the Labour church, and his political leanings of socialism would lead him to join, aid in founding, and eventually   lead the new party dubbed the Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation. His political career would come to an end during the Parliamentary vote on Canada going to war with Nazi Germany. It was not because an evil should not be stopped, it was knowing that war as practiced in the world is not about right and wrong, it is about the profiteering of the wealthy and the culling of the poor. Woodsworth was the only Member of Parliament to vote no, it would cost him leadership of the CCF, and his seat.

But why does this man matter?

Why do I digress into travel history?

Simple, for the prophetic life of Woodsworth was shaped through service to others. It was grown out of a shelter environment. He spoke much, yet he also wrote and two of his books still ring true (once you put aside the eugenics stances of his time within): My Neighbour and Stranger at the Gates. Both works of the early 1900’s explore the work of the shelter, and the tie it has to the holistic care of a person.

The shelter debate has lost its historic centre of the narrative, for within both of Woodsworth’s books what is discovered is working with the whole person to aid them in transitioning from one point of their life to the next. Historically the Winnipeg Shelter was for new Canadians coming to settle the prairies. Now remember historically the Prairies and British Columbia were settled on mass to keep the encroachment by our neighbours to the South. Also historically it was an unfertile wasteland, which needed healthy communities for survival.

This was the role of the shelter. It was about aiding new Canadian families to prepare for the trek west, and also to build a new home. Not a house, not a subsistence existence, but a home. A home that was connected to other homes to build a community and thrive as a unit to create and grow a new society that was burgeoning that was Canada.

How did they do this?

They met the new comers where they were at. They discovered and worked to abate health needs. They worked on education, literacy, language, skills training. They looked to the communities where tracts of land were available, start up kits were given, but they also ensured that the community they were settling new families and persons into was a healthy community for them to be a part of and grow.

One just needs to look at the strong socio-cultural roots within sections of Alberta and Saskatchewan to see the effectiveness of historic housing readiness and effective placement in aiding the building of generational homes.

So as citizens this example leads to questions:

  1. What is community to you?
  2. Do you have a community around you?
  3. Do you have what you need to have a healthy life? For you? Love ones?
  4. Do you have a house or a home?
  5. Is the human right for housing or a home?

From my perspective of pilgrimage through history and country, I believe the human right is not for housing, for me it is about the human right of H-O-M-E.

The place where you belong and are safe and loved.

The above is a lyric from Nathen Aswell’s conscious pop song, Little by Little and I was reminded of it this morning sitting in a pew at Unity of Calgary. The family was revisiting an old spiritual home due to Nathen’s service, because he was the first real singer my Son resonated with, and it was a surprise on a foggy Calgary Weekend.

Yet the song of the little steps needed to come to love and through that build a home. In the Western World we have a grave assumption of home, okay in Calgary for sure, and that assumption is that a home is a “house” and has four walls, where one has utilities, food… but it is more.

Home is about safety. Home is a sanctuary where you discover to love yourself for who you are, and others love you and it is reciprocated.

This is a journey to discover and build home. Some of us were blessed with this growing up, others discovered it later in life, but the journey of making home new in each circumstance is what is needed. Knowing that what we have gone through before has allowed us the freedom to be in the life we are now. And little by little we need to release the past, heal from it and love into the present.

It is a journey, for those from the Judeo-Christian heritage, it is the story of the Exodus. Just think about it. The Hebrews could have easily just gone from Egypt to the Promised Land, but the stories shows us something more. It shows us an illustration of the metaphysical Easter Story.

The old Hebrew (You) dying away, and the rebirth into the promised reality. That of Home.

So the question is are we willing to take the little steps away from the past to become the new?

Are we willing to move Home?


It is true, it is not only affordability of home, but health and integration of community.

Originally posted on Metro News:

Something pretty amazing in the world of social outreach happened in Toronto last week, and it’s caught the attention of homeless advocates across the country. A 106-bed shelter for women and children was slated to close at the end of March when a developer stepped in and offered space in a boutique condo in an upscale neighbourhood.

The news was celebrated around the city, especially in the increasingly trendy Leslieville neighbourhood, where 50,000 residents signed a petition demanding the shelter stay open, and stay open in their neighbourhood.

This is great news on the surface, and something all Canadian cities can learn from, says DJ Larkin, a lawyer with PIVOT Legal Society in Vancouver. It proves that gentrification doesn’t necessarily need to come at the expense of marginalized people. But she says planners need to make sure mixed-income neighbourhoods still offer other affordable services for low-income residents, or else those…

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Yes. Now government please listen to this wisdom (if not just banning them outright)

Originally posted on Calgary Herald:

As low oil prices fuel cutbacks and layoffs, a Calgary non-profit agency said an upcoming regulatory review of the province’s payday lending industry has taken on additional urgency.

Momentum Community Economic Development has released a slate of recommendations for the provincial government to consider, including reducing the maximum interest rate payday lenders can charge.

“There’s definitely going to be a policy window in 2015 and we want to be ready for it. There’s an opportunity for (the provincial government) to better protect consumers and lead the way,” said Mike Brown, public policy co-ordinator at Momentum.

“Certainly, as people get laid off or get reduced hours, it makes sense they’ll seek credit somewhere and payday loans are an all-too-easy option.”

Payday loans are a short-term form of credit where people can borrow sums of money typically lower than what traditional financial institutions would offer. The industry is regulated by federal and provincial laws, with…

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It is a unique thing to be working through a prosperity course and not being focused on “getting rich quick” or quick rich scheme or ponzi scheme if you will. Mary Morrissey is a decent enough speaker and teacher. Yes they focus heavily on “tithing” of money, which never has sat well with me in general.

Yet they also tie into other points of tithing that I still remember learning from Father Bob in my Roman Catholic days, of not only money but of time and talent as well. For as my patron saint, Francis of Assisi was fond of singing, it is in giving that we receive. We are entering our seventh week of this ten week journey, and a question posed in the homework is around what has been gained by this?

Gained, a renewal of spiritual practice of self-examin, which always happened for me daily, beginning and end of the day: what is working, what needs to be changed, roads of creativity, yet this course (and since entering the New Thought fold) has become more structured once more.

There is also the “clearing” as they dub it, which is a renewal of my vow of simplicity, removing the excess of life to bless others or create the space for the energy that unites us all to move, grow and create within spacial realms.

Then there is the giving of our time, and finding a way to connect beyond ourselves.

So has there been a profound, AHA! or even a “money money I am in the money” moment? No. But there is a weight that has lifted from the family home through releasing that spiritual sludge which can become oppressive within our energy, the sludge that hardens like a plaque and creates disunity with the Holy. Removing and coming back in sync as a family unit is the blessing.

The next is walking towards into the renewed vision of an open, barrier free home, a place of gathering free of labels to discover how to live out in our communities, the answer to a very simple yet profound question:

What would Love do?

The first step is : poster

The next step and question is simply to ask, is there a reality where the Rainbow Chapel needs to be renewed?