All Saints, King City hosted a barbecue on June 10 for 51 Grade 8 students and 12 adults from Eenchokay Birchstick School, Pikangikum First Nations and a few of their Indigenous allies. The guests enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, Caesar and pasta salads, cookies, watermelon, pop and ice cream. The dinner served by parishioners was the latest evidence of All Saints’ ongoing commitment to this isolated northern Ontario Indigenous community and our commitment to active reconciliation with Indigenous siblings.
Our commitment began in 2017-18 with a major campaign to raise funds to buy winter clothes for children at the Eenchokay Birchstick School in Pikangikum, a remote fly-in northern Ontario First Nations community. The result was 65 boxes with snowsuits, jackets, pants, boots, mitts and hats, which were transported over the winter ice road by Rotary Honouring Indigenous Peoples in partnership with Trucks for Change.
In December 2018, the school’s principal sent a letter to the National Indigenous Archbishop requesting financial support for the Grade 8 students who would be travelling to southern Ontario in June 2019 for their year-end graduation trip.
The request for donations was circulated to Anglican Indigenous allies, and because of All Saints’ recent involvement with Pikangikum, we became the repository for the donations facilitated by Dave Gordon’s connections with Indigenous allies.
Unfortunately, the students were not able to travel to southern Ontario as planned because it became necessary to evacuate the community due to forest fires two days before their flights to Toronto. Then concerns over COVID-19 prevented travel for the next three years. Fundraising continued during these years, resulting in a substantial sum.
Happily, the 2023 Grade 8 students were able to travel to southern Ontario for their year-end school trip. They arrived in Toronto on June 5 and spent a great week visiting the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Canada’s Wonderland and the Ontario Science Centre. They also enjoyed a Blue Jays baseball game, the latest Spiderman movie, a trip to Niagara Falls and a shopping trip to Square One.
Donations being held by All Saints were provided to the Pikangikum group prior to their travels. All Saints, King City, Christ Church, Kettleby, St. Mary Magdalene, Schomberg, Church of the Incarnation, Toronto and other Anglican church Indigenous allies provided funds to support the group’s activities and additional spending money for the students.
All Saints, King City maintains communications and relations with Eenchokay Birchstick School staff for future Grade 8 graduation trip opportunities.