Presbyterian Connection Newspaper
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Serving Those in Need with Love and Compassion
  By Barb Summers, Communications Office
How does God’s love abide in any- one who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? (1 John 3:17)
On the shores of Lake of the Woods in the northern community of Keno- ra, Ontario, there is a place of refuge for people who are forced to face the harsh, cold Canadian winter with little shelter or security.
Anamiewigummig is an Ojibwe word meaning “house of prayer” and it’s the name of Kenora Fellow- ship Centre, located on the tradi- tional territory of Treaty Three of the Anicinabe Nation. The centre serves all who come through the doors and extends a welcome and services to the patrons. The patrons come from a variety of circumstances and backgrounds, with the majority be- ing Indigenous people carrying the scars of Canada’s residential school system. There were five residential schools operated in this territory and the impacts are still being felt. Ad- diction, homelessness and mental health concerns are just a few of the issues at the forefront, and all are greeted with warmth and kindness. Patrons are offered a meal, a safe place to rest, companionship and a sense of belonging.
A History of Helping
Operating since the 1960s, Kenora Fellowship Centre started as a meet- ing place for residential school stu- dents and their families. A residence
was needed for family members to stay when they came to the commu- nity for visits, leading to the creation of the centre. When Cecilia Jeffrey School (operated by the PCC until 1969 and then by the Government of Canada) closed in 1976, the centre became a ministry of The Presbyte- rian Church in Canada that served as a gathering place for former students and other members of the surround- ing First Nations. The PCC ran the original Cecilia Jeffrey school, which was located on Shoal Lake 39 Island. It then closed and moved into Ke- nora. Over the years, Kenora Fellow- ship Centre has evolved into a place for all people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, facing poverty and homelessness.
The present-day building was con- structed in 1971 and currently func- tions as a drop-in centre. The centre also offers meal programs, transi- tional and room-and-board housing, a mentorship program, and helps provide people with basic necessi- ties. At the centre, patrons can take part in sharing circles, supported by elders, and receive spiritual care.
Kenora Fellowship Centre in Kenora, Ont., is a place for all people facing poverty and homelessness.
Ecumenical worship services are provided throughout the year to share the gospel, encourage one another and build relationships. Occasion- ally there are drumming activities and the sharing of traditional foods. These services reflect mutual respect for Christianity and traditional Indig- enous spirituality. The centre is open 365 days a year and all services are provided for free. There is a laundry service, a place to have a shower and public bathrooms. Perhaps the most important service offered is the opportunity to stay in a safe place— something many patrons don’t have regular access to within the city.
The centre’s mission statement is simple: Clothe the naked, help the helpless, feed the hungry, love the unloved, guide the lost. It is a clear call to action, a clear message of ser- vice to those most in need.
Kenora Fellowship Centre is a min- istry with The Presbyterian Church in Canada supported by donations to Presbyterians Sharing. The centre is also supported by the Presbytery of Winnipeg and they seek out partner- ships with other local organizations. The centre has led and coordinated
several reconciliation events and welcomed participants of the PCC’s 2017 Healing and Reconciliation mission tour.
Yvonne Bearbull is the Executive Director of the centre and has been serving there since early 2013. “We believe that each person has a story to tell,” Yvonne says. “Each person has the ability to recover from past hurts. We believe in reaching out to people and offering them opportuni- ties for development and encourag- ing wholistic self-care.”
A Safe Haven
“They live very difficult lives,” Yvonne says of the patrons who come into
the Fellowship Centre. Many have nowhere to go at night and they are exhausted from facing the cold with- out shelter. Many express feelings of despair and hopelessness. For some, the centre is the only place they have, the only place they are free from harm and danger. “We are a safe haven.”
At Kenora Fellowship Centre, peo- ple are met with dignity and respect, something too many have had with- held from them. Patrons are often discouraged and frustrated. Yvonne notes that all these feelings end up coming out somewhere. Sometimes they take it out on each other; mostly they take it out on themselves.
Continued on page 4
 The five residential schools in the Kenora area were: Cecilia Jeffrey, St. Mary’s, Fort Frances, McIntosh and Pelican Lake.
The Presbyterian Church in Canada • ISSUE 9, SPRING 2019
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Parliament of the World’s Religions
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Refugee Sponsorship

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