Brantford, ON – Weekly Report – July 15-19, 2019

July 23, 2019

MDS REPORT – 2nd WEEK – volunteer groups from Listowel and Elmira ON Mennonite Churches

  • With the Longhouse completed during the 1st week, we had a workshop to work in for when we received our heavy rain on Wed. Work continued on cutting, sanding, staining and varnishing and assembling furniture components. Another 4 double school desks were completed, a cafeteria table and several benches.
  • The 2 levels of the library is starting to look more like a library with filled shelves and fewer boxes, but still many more boxes left to move in. The Librarian, Virve, cannot believe how energetic the MDS volunteers are and how much work they are accomplishing, even in the great heat. There was no funding available to facilitate this move so the work by MDS is a godsend.
  • The volunteers this week also participated in the archaeological dig on the school grounds  – again digging test pits and screening for artifacts, but with a higher find rate than last week
  • The rest of the week’s program was similar to last week with the orientation, Wed cultural evening, meeting a number of survivors and continuing to build relationships with staff and survivors.
  • The project daily routine is working well. Staying at the WL University residence (with AC), eating breakfast in the various apartments, making lunches in the cook’s apartment, having our morning devotion, singing and sharing in the residence common room, then heading to the Woodland Cultural Centre for the day. The cooks bring the noon dessert that is shared with staff and guests. The evening meal is held at the Shenstone Memorial Baptist Church along with the sharing circle.

Two of our Youth volunteers, Charlotte Hale and Malachi Dyck from the Elmira and Listowel Mennonite Churches, represented the 2nd week, wrote about their impressions of the week.

Throughout this week we have learned and experienced many things we will all remember for a very long time. In the Longhouse we were able to participate in the making of desks, benches, and tables that will go into the old rooms of the school in the near future. On the other half of things, a squad of us tackled the job of sorting and organizing the library, that is full of engaging Indigenous reading materials.

 We got a tour of the Woodland Cultural Centre Museum from our new friend Evan and even dug up indigenous artifacts right on site. We learned a lot about the wrongdoings of the settlers to the indigenous peoples. Most of it we hadn’t learned in school and this was really an eye opener for us, even though the Residential schools are closed now, indigenous peoples are still being treated incredibly unfairly.

 Among other things this was no average Mennonite Disaster Service endeavour, this is a mission for us now, to undo the wrong that has been done, to help heal the hearts we have broken as Christians. To fight for more land and better treatment of the indigenous peoples, to eradicate the misuse of the word Indian. If we band together, we can make things right.

 Our next mission we think should be the Disaster of the unsafe water to drink on reserves across Canada and the less than habitable living conditions.

At the end of this week we said goodbye to Clayton, our crew leader and Kathy and Steve, our cooks from VA. The volunteer groups for the next 2 weeks will be considerably smaller. 

From the leadership team, Andrew, Clayton, Dave, Kathy, Steve and Nick