Chief Michael Recalma of the Kwalikum First Nation

Anglican bishop does a walk of reconciliation

Qualicum Chief Michael Recalma: ‘Yes you may stay. And you may cross’

As it did more than 150 years ago, the Anglican Church is entering the traditional territory of Vancouver Island’s First Nations.

This time, it’s asking permission.

Logan McMenamie, Anglican Bishop for the Diocese of Vancouver Island, met with local First Nations leaders last weekend as part of a sacred journey to acknowledge the church’s role in colonial history and to emphasize its commitment to the calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

“We came here as Anglicans as a colonial church, with colonial power,” McMenamie said as he strode south on Highway 19A between Fanny Bay and Bowser on Friday afternoon. “Sad to say, we were involved in residential schools. There’s a whole journey of truth-telling and healing and reconciliation that needs to happen here.”

A few minutes later, McMenamie and several followers crossed into the traditional territory of the Kwalikum First Nation, where they were greeted by Kwalikum Chief Michael Recalma.

After formally introducing himself, McMenamie offered repentance for the church’s approach to its initial arrival here, as colonists who claimed ownership of the land and dominion over its indigenous people.

“We failed to see the Creator in the land, the sea and the sky,” he said. “We failed to see the Creator in your traditional teachings, in your language and in your culture. Thank you for agreeing to meet us as we walk into your territory. And I want to ask on behalf of the Anglicans who live here in your traditional lands, for permission to enter your lands. And I want to ask for your permission to continue to live on this land with you and learn from you, from your teachings, your traditions and your language.

“I really believe that in doing so we will become a better people and a better church.”

Recalma, wearing a traditional woven-cedar hat as he stood beside the highway facing the bishop, nodded.

“Logan, my name is Michael Recalma, Chief of the Qualicum First Nation,” he said. “I’d like to welcome you to our land. Good luck on your quest, and thank you for your kind words.

“Yes, you may stay. And you may cross.”

McMenamie’s journey began

March 6 with a feast and festival in Alert Bay, home of the ‘Namgis First Nation and former site of St. Michael’s Residential Indian School, which was razed last March. Timed to coincide with the Christian holy season of Lent, it is scheduled to end on Easter Sunday at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria.

The bishop has been joined on his sacred journey by various members of the Anglican congregation as he passes through their area, garbed in a bright orange jacket and comfortable running shoes, carrying a gnarled wooden walking stick and waving a gloved hand at passing vehicles.

“After praying about it and talking to some advisors and (church) elders I go to, we came up with the idea that what we really needed to do was re-enter the land, and this time recognize that we are meeting the creator here in these lands,” he said. “And the person who should take that vision quest on behalf of the diocese is me, as the ‘chief’.”

While the journey is symbolic, McMenamie said, it is but a step in the church’s commitment to upholding its responsibilities under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

“Those are not recommendations; those are calls to action,” he said. “There’s a whole group that apply to the government and Canadians as a whole, and there’s a whole group that applies to faith communities. We have committed ourselves to be involved in that.”

After his roadside meeting with Recalma, McMenamie continued south to stop in at St. Mark’s Church in Qualicum Beach. On Saturday, he walked to Coombs, then went on to St. Anne’s and St. Edmunds Church and hall in Parksville, where a Dinner for Reconciliation was held with members of the Qualicum and Nanoose First Nations.

“It’s mostly our Anglican folks, but we’re also welcoming the First Nations people to our ‘Big House,’ so to speak,” said Rev. Andrew Twiddy.

On Sunday, McMenamie resumed his journey with a walk to Nanoose Bay before continuing on toward the final destination in Victoria.

The bishop said he will be returning at a later date to meet with several nations that were missed on this trip because they could not be accessed by foot or could not fit into the schedule, including the Nuu-chah-nulth of the west coast, the Dzawada’enuxw of Kingcome Inlet and the Kwakiutl, Quatsino and Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw nations near Port Hardy.

“The chiefs will say to me, ‘That’s great that you’re walking; what are you going to do after you walk?’ And that’s a great question. They want to know, are we going to be around after this, and are we going to be involved in the calls to action of the TRC?

“This is not just to offer an apology and say it’s over.”

“Because an apology is a very small step in a journey towards reconciliation. As is this walk, just a small step on a journey toward reconciliation.”

Just Posted

Gr. 7s learn about digital safety, health, consent at con in Parksville

SD69 hosts first Health and Wellness Conference for students headed to high school

Qualicum Beach east village plans take shape

Staff moving forward with east village concept

Three-for-one at Parksville studio for tour

Local artists participating in Central Island Studio Tour May 26-27

Pole dancers bring disco theme for second Errington hall event

Island Talent Pole Fitness show to include national champs on June 2

UPDATE: Three-vehicle crash stalls traffic at orange bridge in Parksville

Truck veers into oncoming traffic after left-side axel ‘tore off’

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

B.C. pipeline goes ahead despite scrapped Pacific Northwest LNG

NEB approves amendment for $1.4-billion natural gas North Montney Mainline Project

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Fuel truck crash closes B.C. highway, sends two to hospital

Trans-Canada Highway reopens to traffic early Friday morning

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

Most Read