What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

“Land Issue Come Visit to Learn,” read the sign in front of the logs and brush blocking one of the entrances to Awenda Provincial Park.  We passed it on our way to our cottage outside Penetanguishene.
A few days later, Sr. Lorie and I decided it was time to walk over for our “class.”  We discovered we had much to learn.
John Hawke of Chimnissing Anishinabek (also known as Brousoleil First Nation on Christian Island) has been living in a cabin on land claimed by Awenda Park for eight years.  He decided to erect the barricade so those who share use of this land could gain awareness of its history, current situation, and dreams for its use in the future.
He spoke with us of different treaties and what each one meant.  He also mentioned his opposition to agreements made by INAC (Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada), a group that many indigenous people feel doesn’t represent them, wanting instead to reclaim the traditional system of grandmother leadership.
John Hawke is leading a men’s group for healing and learning how to live the traditional ways.  He works closely with a group of grandmothers led by Elizabeth Elson of the same community.  He believes that it is possible to find ways to share use of the land currently claimed by Awenda Park.
Surely, spending time living more closely with the natural world would be healing and reconciling for all of us.



“Justice for Grassy Narrows” and “Water is Life” were emblazoned on posters, t-shirts and banners at the annual Grassy Narrows event on June 20th.  Chief Rudy Turtle of Grassy, Regional Chief Roseanne Archibald and Paul Beauregard NDP member of Parliament all spoke at the foot of the Parliament Buildings.

lining up in parliament building

With an election due in the fall they are now requesting that the funding promised for the building of a Mercury Care Home be put into a Trust Fund.   The CEO of Lake of the District Hospital has committed to covering some of the medical care to be provided in the home which earlier had been a condition requested by the Federal Government.

chief GN

At the conclusion of the walk; a falcon perched regally on the roof of a nearby building granting further significance to the event.

Sr. Rosemary Williamson, OLM

A Retreat at Presentation Manor


Unity & Presence was the theme of the first annual retreat at Presentation Manor.  It summarizes the Gospel readings from St. John that were heard every day at Mass that week.

Fr. John Reddy, CSB presided at all of the Masses which were held at the regular times.  He kept in mind the theme of the retreat for his homilies.

Each day there was also a talk at 3:30 pm.  On the first day Fr. John Reddy gave the talk.  Each day thereafter, Sr. Eileen Power, CND gave the talks.

A separate area of the dining room was reserved for those wished to keep silence during the retreat.

The organizers were unsure of how many people to expect, and were pleased at how many did attend.  The participants were from the religious communities and from the lay people who live at Presentation Manor.  Many expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be on retreat without having to leave home.

Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM



In November of 2017, the then minister Jane Philpott committed to build and operate a Mercury Survivors Home and Care Centre in Grassy Narrows.  Nearly 500 days later, only 1% of the cost to build the facility has flowed and the project is stalled.


Meanwhile, 94% of Grassy Narrows people get no compensation for the intense impacts of the ongoing mercury crisis on their health, culture, and livelihood.  Instead of getting the support they need they face chronic denial as they live with deep poverty and severe food insecurity.

“Commitment to Meaningful Relationships with First Nations” was one of the promises Prime Minister Trudeau made.

Prime Minister Trudeau spoke at a liberal fund raising dinner in Toronto on May 9th.  Across the street from the venue advocates for Grassy Narrows from several groups gathered with a poster, noise makers and chanting to once again plead for justice.  Pamphlets with relevant information were also passed out.


Chrissy Swain one of the women in Grassy Narrows, who has been an activist for many years addressed the crowd via a cell phone hook up. She is now a grandmother but continues her commitment not to simply be a victim but to stand up and seek justice.  The people of Grassy Narrows continue to seek the funds previously promised in 2017 to build a mercury treatment center in Grassy.

Further Information: http://www.freegrassy.net

Sr. Rosemary Williamson, OLM



Decolonization & Climate Change


The Joint Ecological Ministry committee (JEM) hosted a two day gathering last May 22’nd and 23’rd and some OLMs were in attendance.  The theme was “Decolonization & Climate Change,” and the main speakers were Sylvia McAdam Saysewahum (co-founder of Idle No More & One House, Many Nations), Deborah McGregor (Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice, York University), and Jennifer Henry (Executive Director of KAIROS).

Sylvia McAdam (left) & Deborah McGregor (right)


All three women spoke from their hearts, voicing some strong challenges to those of us who are settlers on the land that is now called Canada.  Sylvia mentioned that whenever she felt troubled about something she knew that there was an important learning coming.  The two days did indeed leave us with much to ponder.



Deborah McGregor, Jennifer Henry, Sylvia McAdam (left to right)
There were also four speakers on a panel on the afternoon of the second day:  Paul Baines (Blue Communities facilitator for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada), Karri Venn-Munn (Senior Policy Analyst with Citizens for Public Justice), Fr. Bert Foliot SJ (IRSS Legacy, Restoration of Identity Project), and Agnes Richards (Coordinating the establishment of a Canadian arm of the Global Catholic Climate Movement).  They each spoke of a project designed to raise awareness of Care for the Earth or Truth & Reconciliation.  They too left us with much to ponder.
Bert Foliot SJ, Karri Munn-Venn, Agnes Richards, Paul Baines (left to right)

-Sr. Christine Gebel, OLM



BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) is a peaceful action used to bring economic pressure on a government which is oppressing people.  It was the very tool which brought justice to South Africa.  Palestinians are now using it to build support for their cries for freedom, justice and equality.

BDSThe BDS movement seeks:

  1. An end to Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Palestinian land
  2. The dismantling of Israel’s wall
  3. Equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel
  4. Respect for the rights of Palestinian refugees

A rally was held in Toronto at Dundas Square on Saturday, May 18 with similar rallies in major cities across Canada.  Speeches were given and later the group walked up Yonge Street to Bloor where the Israeli consulate is located.  Here further speeches were given.

For further information:



-Sr. Rosemary Williamson, OLM

Risk-Taking: A Tremendous Blessing

Jean Vanier
Photo credit:  L’Arche Daybreak

Since the recent death of Jean Vanier, people have asked how was it that Our Lady’s Missionaries  gave their Richmond Hill property to him to open the first L’Arche home outside Trosly- Breuil in France.

Four of Our Lady’s Missionaries had attended Jean’s first retreat at Marylake in August, 1968. We were deeply moved by the spiritual wealth we had experienced during those days. We learned, also, of his work with people with developmental disabilities and his decision in 1964 to live in a small home with two of these men. Now he was anxious to establish a  L’Arche home in Canada.

richmond hill
Postulants and novices on the farm at Richmond Hill 1962.

Our novitiate was in Richmond Hill. We had a large home and seven acres of land we had bought from the Basilian Fathers and we had planned on moving our novices down to our Clarendon community in the summer of 1968 so as to have access to the inter-novitiate program needed after the Vatican II Council. So we took a poll of our OLM sisters and the result was almost unanimous that we offer our Richmond Hill property to Jean Vanier for his new venture. We approached the Chancery Office for permission and Bishop Wall remarked as we were leaving, “Fools walk in where Angels fear to tread!”

L’Arche Daybreak was ‘born’ in the Fall of 1969.

The risk had been taken, and we’ve known tremendous blessings ever since.

 -Rosemarie Donovan, OLM